No Peace for Courts and Legislatures!

No Peace for Courts and Legislatures!

In February 1875, Chief Justice Edward Ryan ruled that Lavinia Goodell could not argue cases to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The legal profession was no place for pure and delicate women, he reasoned. Lavinia wrote a lengthy rebuttal, which was published around the country. Ryan’s decision was so sexist that even 145 years ago, the press poked fun at him. One commentator  called him more tyrannical than Russia’s Czar!

Chief Justice Edward Ryan and Czar Alexander II
Chief Justice Edward Ryan and Czar Alexander II

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This website is a wonderful tribute to Lavinia Goodell

This website is a wonderful tribute to Lavinia Goodell

Former Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Shirley Abrahamson

“In the 1870’s Lavinia Goodell became the first woman admitted to the Wisconsin state bar and then fought an epic battle for the right to practice before that state’s highest court. One century later I was sworn in as Wisconsin’s first woman Supreme Court Justice. Throughout my career in the law I worked hard to open doors for others, just as Lavinia opened the doors to the courtroom where I proudly sat for more than four decades, and presided as Chief Justice for more than 18 years. Lavinia resides in the pantheon of Wisconsin heroes. This website is a wonderful and loving tribute to this remarkable person. I urge everyone to scroll through these pages and find inspiration. Forward!”Former Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, March 2, 2020

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The Chief Justice “was mad as a bull when he sees a red rag”

The Chief Justice “was mad as a bull when he sees a red rag”

Tyler v. Burrington, where a male jury defied a statute to find for a pretty young plaintiff, is the case that made Lavinia Goodell famous. After that painful loss, she vowed to appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But first she had to gain admission to that court’s bar. Lavinia’s petition to argue before the Wisconsin Supreme Court led to a showdown with the fiery chauvinist, Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan.

Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan, Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin's first woman lawyer
Chief Chauvinist Edward Ryan v. Wisconsin’s 1st woman lawyer.

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