Somewhere, somewhere squashed among 175 women, a smarttering of men, one former sexist and one impressive Picasso was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court. Lots of people said so.
Who, wasn't entirely clear, although last night at the W. Averell Harrimans' home, full of antiques and flowering azaleas, guests like Education Secretary Shirley Hufstedler, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amalya Kearse and Columbia Law School Prof. Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to be in the running. None of them claimed to be thinking much about a future court appointment, though.
"God and the president maybe," said Hufstedler, whose new $14-billion department is set to legally come into existence by early May.
But the occasion last night wasn't education. It was judges. Ten of them, all women, all on the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is history.
Hence the champagne and accolades at this reception, held at the Harrimans' but given by the National Women's Political Caucus. h
The bulk of the pack was women lawyers and women lower court judges who spent a lot of time shop-talking. Example:
"You don't fall asleep sitting up there?" Shelley Schneider, a Rockville lawyer, asked Rya Zobel, a U.S. District Court judge in Massachusetts.
"Well . . ." said Zobel. "There are times. I'm in the middle of a case now concerning a glue that didn't stick."
A short time after this conversation occurred, one of the few male judges in evidence had a small confession to make.
"I was one of those lawyers," said Reynaldo Garza, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in the Fifth Circuit, "that didn't want women on juries. That was a long time ago. The old mentality -- you know, a woman's place is in the home. My poor mother. When my daddy died, she didn't know where the bank account was or anything. But now, women make very fine jurors and we're enjoying the two judges in the Fifth Circuit."
The party attracted a lot of the female power Washington has to offer, including presidential adviser Sarah Weddington, assistant education secretary Liz Carpenter and Iris Mitgang, chair of the caucus.
The 10 honored judges were:
Betty Fletcher, Cornelia Kennedy, Phyllis Kravitch, Mary Schroeder, Carolyn Randall, Dorothy Nelson, Stephanie Seymour, Patricia Wald, Amalya Kearse and Delores Sloviter.