TLAW Mourns the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We are sharing NAWL - National Association of Women Lawyers 

Tribute to Justice Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived the mission of the National Association of Women Lawyers: the advancement of women in the legal profession and advocacy for the equality of women under the law.  She was one of us, and she was an inspiration to us.  In that spirit, in 2002, we honored Justice Ginsburg with NAWL’s highest honor, the Arabella Babb Mansfield award.  In 2019, NAWL celebrated the work of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, which Justice Ginsburg co-founded in 1972, granting the Mansfield award to an organization for the first time.

Ginsburg became a lawyer at a time when the legal profession was not welcoming to women.  She began her legal education at Harvard Law School in 1956, where she learned to navigate life as one of only nine women students in a class of more than 500, the only mother in the group.  She and her women counterparts were famously asked by Dean Griswold to explain why each had enrolled at the law school, taking the place of a man.  Undeterred by the male-dominated, hostile environment, she excelled academically and became the first woman member of the Harvard Law Review. 

Ginsburg’s husband of 56 years and partner in life, Martin Ginsburg, supported her as an equal in intellect, and ambition.  He was an ally, long before we had a term for it, who led by example.  After Marty was treated for testicular cancer during his third year at Harvard Law School, Justice Ginsburg requested to spend her third year of law school in New York, in order to relocate with her family.  When Harvard denied her request, she transferred to Columbia Law School, and graduated first in her class in 1959 as a member of the Columbia Law Review.

After struggling to secure legal employment as a woman, a Jew, and a mother, Justice Ginsburg clerked for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri.  She went on to teach at Rutgers University Law School and Columbia Law School, at the latter becoming the school's first woman tenured professor.  In 1972, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project (“WRP”).  During the 1970s, as the WRP’s first Director, she argued six landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court, helping establish the legal groundwork for prohibitions against sex discrimination. 

Notably, in Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971), the Supreme Court extended the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to women.  Ginsburg also supported the challenge to an Oklahoma statute that set different minimum drinking ages for men and women in Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976), filing an amicus brief and sitting at counsel table in this landmark litigation that established an “intermediate scrutiny” standard for gender discrimination.  Recognizing that gender equality is in all of our interests, in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975), she represented a widower denied survivor benefits under Social Security, which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minor children - and won.

In 1978, her last case as an attorney before the Supreme Court was Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357 (1979), which challenged the validity of voluntary jury duty for women, on the ground that participation in jury duty was a citizen's vital governmental service and therefore should not be optional for women. At the end of Ginsburg's oral argument, then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist asked Ginsburg, "You won't settle for putting Susan B. Anthony on the new dollar, then?"

Justice Ginsburg was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in 1980.  In 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton.  Confirmed by the Senate in a 96-3 vote, she became the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.  In 1996, writing for a 7-1 court, Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), which struck down the Virginia Military Institute’s all-male admissions policy and opened the institution to women.  Holding that Virginia violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause because it failed to show "exceedingly persuasive justification" for VMI's gender-biased admissions policy, Ginsburg wrote "generalizations about 'the way women are,' estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description."

Her colleague and friend, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, praised Ginsburg's skills as an advocate: "she became the leading (and very successful) litigator on behalf of women's rights—the Thurgood Marshall of that cause, so to speak." An advocate for gender equality in practice, she was a consensus builder on the Court.  Legal scholar Cass Sunstein characterized her as a “rational minimalist,” who sought to build on precedent rather than pushing the Constitution towards her own vision. 

After Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006, Justice Ginsburg remained as the only woman on the Supreme Court.  For the first time in her history on the Court, that year, she read multiple dissents from the bench – to demonstrate a more intense disagreement with the majority.  On the bench, Justice Ginsburg remained a staunch advocate for reproductive freedom and gender equality.  As the Court became increasingly hostile to women, and political machinations of anti-equality members of Congress more blatant, Justice Ginsburg resolved to remain on the Court as long as she was able.  News reports confirm that in her final days, Justice Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter (and an attorney), Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Indeed, NAWL will not settle.  Political opportunists have wasted no time attempting to justify a swift nomination and floor vote on a replacement for Justice Ginsburg before the end of 2020, an act directly contrary to their own behavior and public statements in 2016, when Justice Scalia died more than 8 months before an election.  We will not countenance a different result, especially with early voting having commenced in a number of states and less than 50 days to go before an election that will be a referendum on justice, the rule of law, and the future of our democracy. This nomination shall wait until 2021, after the people have spoken.  Let the people vote, and the people shall decide.

We grieve the loss of Justice Ginsburg, to the profession, to women, and to this country.  According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began last night, is a tzaddik - a person of great righteousness. The Hebrew root of tzaddik is "tzedek (צדק)" which means - "justice."  May her memory be a blessing, to us all.

Please see the notice cancelling Judge Wyrick’s Investiture Ceremony due to the ongoing pandemic

Marion Griffin Women's Symposium

When: Friday, September 20, 2019 8:00 AM, CDT
Where: Belmont University College of Law, Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, 1901 15th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212



Keynote Speaker 

Chief Justice Cheri L. Beasley,

North Caroline Supreme Court

Alumnus of the University of Tennessee

College of Law

Registration Levels:

$250 Patron's Circle

This level entitles you to special recognition in the MGWS program, your photo taken with Keynote Speaker Justice Cheri Beasley and an invitation to a reception honoring Chief Justice Beasley at the home of Judge Marietta Shipley the evening of September 19th.

$100 Early Bird Member Ticket ($125 September 1st)

$125 Early Bird Nonmember Ticket ($150 September 1st)

$75 Government and Special Interest Attorneys (Member and Nonmember)

$50 Law Student

CLE Program Descriptions** and Schedule of the day and Registration click here

National Women's Equality Day! 

  • January 16, 2015 3:12 PM | Anonymous

    Governor Bill Haslam recently announced the 11 members of the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments.  Of those 11 members, TLAW’s President, Cheryl G. Rice, was appointed as one of the three members representing the Eastern Division of Tennessee, and Rice will serve as Chair of the Council.  Governor Haslam created the Council by an executive order following the recent passage of Amendment Two to the Tennessee Constitution.

    After receiving notice that a trial or appellate court vacancy has occurred or is impending, and after a public hearing, the Council will select three candidates who are most qualified to fill the vacancy and send those names to the governor as nominees for the appointment.  The governor will fill the vacancy by appointing a person from among the three nominated or require the Council to submit a panel of three additional nominees.

    Rice is a shareholder at Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis, P.C., in Knoxville, where she focuses her practice on commercial litigation, contract disputes, and creditors’ rights.

    Join TLAW in congratulating Cheryl on her recent appointment!

    To view the Executive Order, click here: To view the official announcement, click here:  

  • January 14, 2015 4:55 PM | Karol Lahrman - Executive Director of TLAW (Administrator)


    To learn more about the Monument and how to contribute, click on

  • January 14, 2015 3:53 PM | Karol Lahrman - Executive Director of TLAW (Administrator)

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  • January 12, 2015 8:54 PM | Anonymous
    Beth Bates   The Tennessee Bar Foundation recently selected outstanding attorneys from across the state to induct as fellows.  Beth S. Bates, TLAW President Elect, was among the chosen few.  Bates is a Senior Staff Attorney at West Tennessee Legal Services where she concentrates on Social Security disability, Tennessee Medicaid medical services appeals, and Food Stamp/SNAP program outreach.  Bates has worked at West Tennessee Legal Services for over 20 years. 

    The Tennessee Bar Foundation chooses attorneys who have contributed to public interest projects.  Those selected for this honor are attorneys who have been licensed for at least ten years and who have demonstrated an uncompromised dedication to integrity and high personal and professional standards; made outstanding and recognized contributions to the legal profession and to the public good; and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the published objectives and purposes of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. 

    Congratulations, Beth, on such an honor!

  • January 12, 2015 1:10 PM | Anonymous

    TLAW is proud to announce our partnership with Pinnacle Bank!

    Please check out the members only section for special banking and loan promotions only through TLAW.

  • January 08, 2015 7:27 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to TLAW members, Kim Looney and Anne Martin, who were named as winners of Nashville Business Journal's 2015 Women of Influence Awards.  Looney, a partner at Waller, focuses her practice on healthcare and won a Community Supporter award.  Martin, a member at Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC, focuses her practice on commercial litigation and labor and employment law and won a Company Executive award.  We are proud of our outstanding leaders!  The winners will be featured in a special section of the February 27th print edition of the Nashville Business Journal. 

  • December 07, 2014 8:55 PM | Anonymous

    Recently, the University of Tennessee College of Law named Melanie D. Wilson its next Dean. Wilson will replace current Dean Doug Blaze in July 2015.  We look forward to her leadership and give her a warm Tennessee welcome! Special thanks to the alumni and staff who who were part of the dean search, including TLAW's own Professor Amy Morris Hess and Jamie Ballinger-Holden.

    To read more about Wilson, visit the College of Law's announcement:

  • November 11, 2014 6:59 AM | Anonymous

    TLAW sincerely thanks all of the men and women who have served our country to protect the freedoms that we each enjoy. 

    If you know a veteran or see one today, take the time to tell him or her that you appreciate his or her service and sacrifices. It only takes a minute to show your appreciation so reach out to someone today.

  • November 04, 2014 8:57 PM | Anonymous

    The statewide, free CLE co-sponsored by TLAW on October 30th was a true success. Over 200 women and men gathered from Kingsport to Memphis to listen to renowned author and speaker, Cait Clarke, as she presented “The Women’s Guide to Negotiation.”  Cait Clarke provided insight on how each woman can use her individual talents and characteristics to better negotiate on behalf of her clients, her organizations, and herself.  A sincere thanks goes out to the many people and organizations that helped make this statewide event a success. 

    Author and speaker, Cait Clarke, addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the University of Tennessee College of Law.

  • October 26, 2014 7:06 PM | Anonymous

    Get ready for a big week!

    This is the last week of early voting in the November 4th election. So far, over 300,000 Tennesseans have taken advantage of early voting. Join the club and cast your vote early! Don't forget to vote "Yes" on Amendment 2.

    Also, don't miss Women's Guide to Negotiation, the FREE one-hour CLE that TLAW, ETLAW, and the Law Women of the University of Tennessee are sponsoring across the state this Thursday, October 30th. For more information, check it out:

    Lastly, don't let Halloween sneak up on you this Friday. This is your one chance to be a really frightening lawyer! BOO!  

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