Flashback: In 1925, a Woman's Place Was on the Texas Supreme Court

About 30 years before women were allowed to sit on juries in Texas, they were allowed to sit on the bench. And not just any bench - the Texas Supreme Court.In 1925, Gov. Pat Neff had a problem. A case had made its way to the Texas Supreme Court concerning land in El Paso. The Woodmen of the World, a prominent fraternal organization, claimed their trustees were entitled to both of the tracts in question. Unfortunately for Neff, not only were all three justices Woodmen, but most Texas lawyers were as well. When the justices recused themselves due to conflict of interest, it became Neff's nearly impossible responsibility to find non-Woodmen to serve on a special court. After 10 months of searching, Neff was desperate.That's when he had an idea. Women were barred from membership in the Woodmen by virtue of their gender. Why not appoint female attorneys to the special court?Although Neff resorted to female judges only after exhausting all other options, he held more progressive ideas about women than others at the time. Neff was the first governor to have a female private secretary and had appointed women to state boards.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us