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Legal Briefs: First woman admitted to practice before US Supreme Court

Published Monday, April 17, 2017

On March 3, 1879, Belva Lockwood became the first woman admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

After moving to Washington D.C. in 1865, Lockwood became active in the fight for equal rights for women. Lockwood lobbied for a bill that would give federal employees the same salaries, no matter their gender. The measure passed, and she subsequently decided to pursue a career in the law earning her law degree in 1873.

One of her notable cases was that she helped the Cherokee people win a $5 million reimbursement from the government.

As part of her work for women's rights, Lockwood ran for the U.S. presidency in 1884. She ran again in 1888 as the Equal Rights Party candidate.

In the mid-1890s, Lockwood worked with lawyer and scholar Ellen S. Mussey to secure equal property and guardianship rights for women. Then, in the early 1900s, Lockwood drafted amendments granting suffrage to women in newly proposed states, including Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.



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