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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Journal of Gender and Law

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The UCLA Journal of Gender & Law (formerly the UCLA Women's Law Journal), established in 1989, is dedicated to the critical analysis of gender as it is structured and reinforced by the law and legal institutions. Integral to this mission is the promotion of scholarship that attends to the ways that race, class, ability, sexuality, nationality, religion, and other forms of marginalization constitute and intersect with gender as a lived and legal reality. We strive to incorporate critiques of the law as a tool of oppression, as well as solutions for collective liberation that operate within and beyond the law.

UCLA Women's Law Journal 24.2



As the New York Times noted in 1971, Mildred Lillie fortunately had no children. Even in her fifties, she maintained “a bathing beauty figure.” Lillie was not, however, a swimsuit model. She was one of President Nixon’s possible nominees for the United States Supreme Court. Shortlisted tells the stories of nearly a dozen extraordinary women considered, but ultimately not nominated, for the Court before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first in 1981. The public nature of the nomination process enables us to analyze the scrutiny of these women by the profession and media, and analogize to those similarly not selected, elected, or appointed to political office, corporate boardrooms, the judiciary, law firm partnership, and other positions of power. We find that the stories of those women who did not attain these various power roles are as compelling as those who did. Our work builds upon and transcends previous scholarly work on the theory of the “leaking pipeline”—i.e. that women enter the profession in numbers equal to men but do not advance—and dispels the persistent myth that there is a dearth of sufficiently qualified women. This project explores decades of women shortlisted to the Court pre-O’Connor from Presidents Roosevelt to Reagan, situating gender in a vibrant historical context and offering ideas for advancement of women in the law and beyond. Shortlisted investigates the gendered experiences of an elite group of women—both professional and personal—and situates their stories within the context of gender, judging, and the legal profession. This project is one of first impression. We are the first scholars to identify and assess these women together in light of their shared experience of being shortlisted.  Until now, these individual and collective stories have largely gone untold.