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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Women's Law Journal

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The UCLA Women's Law Journal is an academic legal journal that uses the power of language to educate people and make women's voices heard. We seek to do so by focusing not only on the common struggles of women, but also on diversity as a strength in feminist legal scholarship. Through diversity, we seek to represent the reality of all women's lives and experiences, without separating voices into exclusionary categories.

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.