March Madness, Semifinals (3/30/2018) — Barbara Jordan v. Sarah Weddington

The second Semifinals match-up of our Women’s History Month March Madness contest is between Barbara Jordan and Sarah Weddington. You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

Image from Wikipedia.

Barbara Jordan-“More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases. More is required. We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future.”

Born into a very religious family, Barbara Jordan was inspired in high school by Edith Sampson to become a lawyer. After attending university and law school, Barbara started practicing in Texas. She spent the majority of her career advocating for civil rights and campaigning to enter one public office or another. Barbara’s third attempt to gain a seat in the Texas Senate was successful and she was the first African-American woman to be elected into that position. She was the president pro tem of the Senate for a period and also served a single day as acting state governor. In 1972, she was elected the first female to be a representative for Texas in the House of Representatives. She remained a well-known member of politics until 1979 (prior to which she was mentioned as being a possible running mate with President Carter) when she retired to become an adjunct professor at UT Austin. Barbara might have been elected to the Supreme Court, if her declining health had not been a factor.

Image from Britannica.

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.

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.

Author: Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake is the Assistant Director for Public Services and the Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program at Texas Tech University Law School, where she also teaches courses in Texas Legal Research, and Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research and administers the Legal Practice Program's research workshops. She blogs at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: