Thursday, November 5, 2009

Myra Bradwell.

Myra Bradwell was the first female lawyer in Illinois. She studied law on her own so she could assist her husband. Her husband was a local judge. She was the first women in the state to take the state bar exam and pass it. Bradwell was founded the Chicago Legal News. She was denied her license to practice law in Illinois when she applied to the state bar. She appealed to the Illinois State Supreme Court in 1869. The Supreme Court upheld the bar's decision and refused to grant Myra a license because "of disability imposed by...your married condition. " The court went on to state. The state said that until such disability shall be removed by legislation, the court regards itself powerless to grant your application. The "disability" the court referred to was a married woman's lack of legal standing in contracts. As long as Illinois law defined married women as residents with no legal status, the state supreme court could not give assistance to Bradwell. Myra then appealed her case to the U.S Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said " The peculiar qualities of womanhood, its gentle graces, its tender susceptibilities, its purity, its delicacy, its emotional impulses, its subordination of hard reason to sympathetic feeling are surely not qualifications for forensic strife." Bradwell despaired of gaining admittance to the bar. She went to help another Illinois woman. Alta M. Hulett, and the two women pursued a different way. They prepared a bill for the Illinois state legislature that made it illegal to deprive citizens of employment because of their gender. The legislature passed the bill. Hulett was admitted to the bar in 1873. Bradwell then turned her attention to the Chicago Legal News. The Illinois State Supreme Court granted Bradwell a license in 1890.

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