So now that the Keebler Elf of the Supreme Court, David Souter, is exiting, and rumor has it that the President will nominate a woman, the timing of the MSBA's Women's Law Section Spring Program Wednesday on "Judicial Leaders: The Future of Women on the Bench" was particularly propitious.
The speaker was Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass), who has amusing — and telling — anecdotes about life on the bench for her and her colleague Patti Saris. But the bulk of her remarks were broader, and focused on a New York Times article from a few years back (which I remember reading) about the next-generation of women lawyers from those who pioneered entry into the market. She was not pleased that the gist of thinking from this group was that one could move "post" feminism, because now there was a choice for women, either to stay home or work, and that this was the ultimate goal of the women's movement. Many obstacles remain, Judge Gertner noted, in getting women to the higher echelons of the legal profession, and as she was working night and day for equality, she thought it was for more than giving women a family-work option.
She made interesting points, including that it's too early to say what impact the economic downturn is going to have on progress. She was not sanguine, although she noted that the efficiency that women develop from all their family-work multi-tasking could be a boon if we break our dependency on the billable hour. (Personally, I welcome alternative billing, and I hope that it does become more prominent.)
Many of the women judges from Maine were there, including Chief Justice Saufley, Justice Gorman, Justice Murphy, Justice Wheeler, Judge Stanfill, Judge Kravchuk on the federal side, and others whom I just didn't bump into. A special shout-out here to the Chief, who always comes to these events along with her 8000 other tasks. I hope that at least once a week she gets to stay home in her jammies watching old House episodes or whatever she likes to do to rest her brain.
And if we are nominating potential Supreme Court Justices, how about the Chief Judge of the First Circuit, Sandra Lynch? She would be a New England replacement, she's had a mix of private practice and time on the bench and by any account, she's one of the best judges there is today, period. Unfortunately I haven't heard her name bandied about by Nina Totenberg or anyone else in the media; but she'd be a great choice.