Women granted right to argue in front of Supreme Court

Jessica Jost

Image used under the Fair Use doctrine from www.Forbes.com
In the late 19th Century in America, women were a long way off from gaining the right to vote, serving in Congress and being paid the same amount of money per hour as men.
But in 1879, women everywhere in America were granted the highest honor a lawyer can receive— the right to argue a case in front of the US Supreme Court.
On this day in history, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a the Act to Relieve Certain Legal Disabilities of Women.
The bill was originated by Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood who would later go on to become the first woman to argue in front of the Supreme Court after the passage of the bill. She attended the National University Law School (Now George Washington University Law School). However, the school would not grant her a diploma upon graduation because she was a woman. Undeterred, Lockwood wrote to then President Ulysses S. Grant, and she received her diploma within a week.
She drafted an anti-discrimination bill that would grant women the right to argue before the Supreme Court and lobbied Congress for the passage of her bill. In 1877, Representative John M. Glover introduced the bill before the House providing  “any woman who shall have been a member of the bar of the highest court of any State or Territory or of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia for the space of three years, and shall have maintained a good standing before such court, and who shall be a person of good moral character, shall, on motion and the production of such record, be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The bill passed through the House of Representatives in February 1878 with a 169 to 87 vote. The passage of the bill in the Senate took a petition signed by 160 male lawyers, a legal brief written by Lockwood and a year long battle behind the scenes to convince the Senators to vote in favor of the bill. The bill passed in the Senate and on February 15th, 1879, Hayes signed it into law.
On Feb. 15, The Blue Note hosted O. A. R., the Mizzou men’s basketball team faced off against Oklahoma State, and the Boston Bruins traveled to Canada to play the Montreal Canadians, but 133 years ago and 951 miles away, women took another step toward equality.