The Honorable Cornelia G. Kennedy, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, died earlier this month. She was 90.
Judge Kennedy was the first woman to do many things. She was the first to work as a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first woman to serve as chief judge for a federal district court, and the first woman to serve on the Judicial Conference of the United States.
She was the second woman to serve as judge on the Sixth Circuit, but likely the first female nominee to that court to prompt opposition. When nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, some progressive groups raised concerns. She was later on President Reagan’s short-list of potential Supreme Court picks both in 1981 (when he nominated Sandra Day O’Connor) and 1987 (when he nominated Robert H. Bork, then Douglas Ginsburg, and then Anthony Kennedy).