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Bradwell v. Illinois


This case was the first argued before the Supreme Court regarding the Fourteenth Amendment's protection to women's citizenship rights. Still, Bradwell was unsuccessful in gaining the right to become an attorney.

Myra Bradwell, editor of the Chicago Legal News, passed the Illinois law exam in August of 1869. When she applied for admission to the Illinois bar in September of 1869, she submitted the required certificate of qualification and also a separate written application addressing the fact that she was a woman. She conceded that the Illinois Revised Statutes described attorneys as males, "authoriz[ing] him," for example, "to appear in all the courts [emphasis added]."

She then cited one section of the statutes: "When any party or person is described or referred to by words importing the masculine gender, females as well as males shall be deemed to be included." She pointed out that "Section 3 of our Declaration of Rights says `that all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God,' etc. It will not be contended, that women are not included within this provision."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Bradwell v. Illinois - Significance, The Marriage Disability, The Female Disability, All Or Nothing, God's Say So