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Women’s History Month 2021: A Celebration

By: Carolyn J. Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA

When it comes to recognizing and remembering iconic women who have served in the Judicial branch, three names come to mind.

  • NC Supreme Court Justice Susie Marshall Sharp
  • Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
  • And of course, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This year in honor of Women’s History Month, Woodruff Family Law Group published three blogs on these trail blazing Justices whose work was transformative in North Carolina and in the nation.

The Hon. Susie Marshall Sharp, a graduate of the University of North Carolina Law School, was appointed as a Special Judge to the Superior Court in 1949 by NC Governor W. Kerr Scott. Judge Sharp was then appointed as the first female Justice to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court by Governor Terry Sanford in 1962.

Justice Sharp’s decisions and work made significant changes in liability law affecting charitable hospitals, divorce, product liability, and worker’s compensation.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a graduate of Stanford University Law School, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981. She was as much an active voice behind the scenes as she was on the bench; apparently, she insisted that the Justices all eat lunch together, and would not take no for an answer.


Justice O’Connor was certainly a first on the bench. She took into consideration the intimate effect of the Court’s decisions on the individual and what her decisions meant for the regular person. Perhaps no other Justice who has ever sat on our nation’s highest court has given as much thought to practical considerations.


As only the second woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a graduate of Columbia Law School, will forever be remembered for her accomplishments.  She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993.


Justice Ginsburg was undoubtedly an icon and trailblazer for equal protections for women in the law. In addition to her never-ending accolades, she brought impeccable style to the high court through her many collars throughout the years. Ginsburg, who was 87 when she died on September 18, 2020, became known for subtly encoding meaning in the collars she chose to wear on any given occasion.


We salute the achievements of these three great women and their legacies.


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