The quarterfinals conclude today with a match-up between Sarah Weddington and Elena Kagan. Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk. Happy voting!
Sarah Weddington-“Everyone wants to know they have made a difference…I know I have. I may be tired, but I am not bored.”
Born in Abilene, Texas, Sarah Weddington was constantly involved in school activities before graduating from high school a full two years early. She entered the University of Texas Law School at only 19 and graduated in the top quarter of her class three years later. Despite being a successful student, Sarah had trouble obtaining a job after graduation. She decided to join a group of law graduates that wanted to challenge anti-abortion statutes. Soon after joining, the group was approached by a woman who’d been prevented from having an abortion and wished to sue the district attorney known for enforcing the statute. Because of her own history, having had an illegal abortion years earlier in Mexico, Sarah started researching the case and soon was deep in the Roe v. Wade In 1971 and 1972, Sarah presented the case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States and argued based on many of the Amendments to the Constitution and on privacy decisions made by the Supreme Court previously. In 1973, the Supreme Court overturned the Texas abortion laws and sided in favor of Sarah’s case, making her the youngest person ever to argue successfully to the Supreme Court at only 27 years old. After the Roe v. Wade decision, Sarah was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and was an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Elena Kagan-“I have no regrets. I don’t believe in looking back. What I am proudest of? Working really hard… and achieving as much as I could.”
Elena was born to a family of academics and lawyers in New York. From a young age, Elena showed an exceptional mind and the ability to successfully use that mind to change other people’s opinions for the better. Because she was Jewish, Elena advocated for her bat mitzvah to be held in the synagogue much like a bar mitzvah would which went against the current tradition of her synagogue. However, she was able to convince her rabbi to honor her requests and the synagogue continued to hold bat mitzvahs in the building afterwards. Elena graduated from Princeton and then from Harvard Law, and clerked for the Supreme Court before entering private practice. Not long after, Elena entered academia and became a law professor and then the Dean of Harvard Law, the first female to hold that position. She spent her time as Dean making the school more student friendly and centered on the students’ well being. After being a finalist for the position of President of Harvard University, she was nominated by President Obama to be the first Female U.S Solicitor General and in 2010 was nominated as a Supreme Court Justice.
Disclaimer: This is a friendly competition that is meant to increase awareness about some amazing women. The match ups were determined by a random outcome generator, and the winner will be determined based solely on the votes submitted by the participants. We are in no way seeking to pit one woman against each other in any inappropriate way, because each woman is inspiring in her own right.