852 Rare: The Monthly Special – The “Unusual” Supreme Court Clerk Nominee

“My second nominee is somewhat unusual.”  This was the first line written by New York University School of Law Dean, Russell Niles, in support of Rita E. Hauser’s candidacy for a clerkship with Chief Justice Earl Warren. The letter was written in October of 1958 and what was “unusual” about the recommendation was that the candidate was a woman.

Dean Niles’ recommendation was indeed unusual; up until 1958 only one woman had served as a clerk to a Supreme Court Justice.  Her name was Lucille Lomen and she clerked for William O. Douglas during the 1944-45 term.

Ms. Hauser did have an interview with the Chief Justice, but was not hired. As she mentions in a note accompanying the recommendation letter she recalls Warren saying that he was not ready to hire a female clerk. He was on the court for eleven more years and never did hire a woman.  The next woman selected by any Justice did not happen until 1966.

Note accompanying letter of recommendation. Hollis 13105554.


A copy of the letter and Ms. Hauser’s note were recently given to the Library by Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow.  For such a short document it reveals much about a time in this country when sexism and gender discrimination were powerful adversaries for women.

The documents have been digitized and are available via the Hollis record.


Post contributed by Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives.

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