Sally J. Kenney, Newcomb Memorial College Institute; Tulane University

Making the Case for Women Judges

Mon, 03/08/2010
4:30-6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall
Event Category: 

We hope you will join us for a LAPA Seminar with Sally J. Kenney, Executive Director of the Newcomb College Institute and Newcomb College Endowed Chair at Tulane University, who will present "Making the Case for Women Judges."  Her commentator will be The Honorable Deborah T. Poritz, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. 

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance.  The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.  

For those planning to attend the seminar, hard copies will shortly be available during regular business hours in 416A Robertson Hall, or you may write to Judi Rivkin at

Sally J. Kenney joined Tulane University in 2010. She served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs from 1995-2009 where she also directed the Center on Women and Public Policy. From 1989-1995, she held a joint appointment in Political Science, Women's Studies, and Law at the University of Iowa.  She is a founder of the Infinity Project, to work for more women on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court's Gender Fairness Implementation Committee. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the Law & Society's Collaborative Research Network on Women Judges. She directed a Feminist Leadership Fellows Program and Women Legislators Retreats. She has served on the boards of Watch, the court monitoring organization, the Minnesota Women's Campaign Fund, and the University of Minnesota Press. She has served as a consultant to the US Congress's House Education and Labor Committee on discrimination resulting from fetal protection policies.  She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, a B.A. and M.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Magdalen College, Oxford, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Iowa.  Her research interests include gender and judging, judicial selection, feminist social movements, women and electoral politics, the European Court of Justice, exclusionary employment policies, and pregnancy discrimination. She is the author of For Whose Protection? Reproductive Hazards and Exclusionary Policies in the United States and Britain, and is the co-editor of Politics and Feminist Standpoint Theories and Constitutional Dialogues in Comparative Perspective. Her work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Law and Social Inquiry, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Politics, Women and Politics, Politics & Gender, Mobilization, and Judicature as well as in law reviews. She is currently at work on books on Gender and Judging and Case Studies on Women and Public Policy.

Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz (ret.) received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1977. On graduation, she joined the office of the New Jersey Attorney General as a Deputy Attorney General in the Division of Law, Environmental Section. She later served as Deputy Attorney General in Charge of Appeals, Chief of the Banking, Insurance and Public Securities Section, and from 1986 to 1989, was Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Division of Law, supervising more than 300 attorneys for the state. In 1989, the Chief Justice was appointed Counsel to Governor Thomas H. Kean, the first woman to serve in that position. In January 1990, she became a partner at the Princeton law firm of Jamieson, Moore, Peskin & Spicer where she represented clients in environmental and insurance regulatory matters, remaining at Jamieson until her appointment by Governor Christine T. Whitman in January 1994 as New Jersey's first woman Attorney General.  As Attorney General, she successfully defended Megan's Law in both the state and federal courts and chaired the task force that proposed and implemented the reorganization and reformation of the juvenile justice system in New Jersey.  On July 10, 1996, Chief Justice Poritz took the oath of office as the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  During her ten-year tenure on the Court, she authored numerous opinions on significant issues of state and federal law, including the right of a minor to seek an abortion without notifying her parents, the discriminatory use of preemptory jury challenges, the right of the Boy Scouts to exclude an openly homosexual member and the right of same-sex couples to marry.  Also, as Chief Justice, she presided over the unification of the judiciary that followed legislation transferring the responsibility for court funding from the counties to the state.  On October 26, 2006, she stepped down from the high court and, in December 2006, joined the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath as Of Counsel. In 2000, she was awarded the first Brooklyn College Presidential Medal and, in 2004, she was further honored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School when her portrait was unveiled and hung at the Law School.  She has been presented with the National Association of Women Judges' Lifetime Achievement Award, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Civil Leadership Award, the Richard J. Hughes Public Service Award, the Mary Philbrook Award and the Amy and Alan Lowenstein Social Justice Award, among others, and has lectured on state constitutional rights at Rutgers University Law School and Harvard Law School.