President Alfred H. Bloom's Charge to Schroeder Charge
Mary Murphy Schroeder, you are a renowned jurist and Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, the largest circuit in the country. With compassion and clarity you demonstrate that the purpose of the law is the improvement of the human condition.
Raised in Urbana, Illinois, you graduated from Swarthmore in 1962, with a major in History, having studied Constitutional Law with your life-long mentor, Roland Pennock, and interned over the summers for Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois. In 1965, you completed law school at the University of Chicago, one of only five women in your class.
You began work as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, went on to serve as law clerk to the Honorable Jesse Udall of the Arizona Supreme Court, and then joined the law firm of Lewis and Roca in Phoenix, to become in two years the first woman to make partner in any large law firm in the Rocky Mountain region. You chaired the committee that drafted and secured the passage of Arizona's first civil rights law and in 1979 were appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit. In 2000, you became the first woman ever to be appointed its Chief Judge. You also serve as an adjunct lecturer at Duke University School of Law.
You have taken singular leadership in protecting the rights of all citizens, especially women and minorities, and in preserving intellectual freedoms. Among your groundbreaking judicial decisions have been a broad grant of asylum to Salvadoran refugees, striking down the height and weight requirements for female flight attendants, and ruling that the creation of concentration camps for Japanese American citizens during World War II was based upon racial prejudice — a decision that overturned two World War II-era Supreme Court cases, and which the U.S. government did not appeal.
You were named Honoree of the Year by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, and honored by the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award of the American Bar Association, and by the James A. Walsh Outstanding Jurist Award.
Mary Schroeder, you have courageously and successfully fought gender discrimination in the legal profession and the judiciary. Throughout your career by precept and example you have given life to the highest standards of judicial conduct, and combing analytic rigor, keen ethical intelligence, and uncommon imagination and courage, you have offered a nationally recognized model of how to place legal argument and judicial decision-making at the service of a more just, inclusive, and compassionate world. We applaud you and take great pride that you have drawn on the values and skills at the heart of a Swarthmore education to shape your historic impact.
Upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Laws.