Attorney Brooksley Born's Kalorama house was no place to feel guilty last night.
Not with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and 24 area female judges handing down decisions at a cocktail party benefit for the National Women's Law Center.
O'Connor, who has fast become an icon for female judges and attorneys, was asked at one point if she would be interested in running for president or vice president. She laughed and said, "Why? I've got a good job. I still have much to learn about how to do what I'm doing."
When it was pointed out that Supreme Court justices "don't have to run every four years," she nodded and said, "That's right."
"When a woman is elected president or vice president, I doubt she will come from the judiciary," said Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge here. "We're too cloistered. The first woman president is more likely to be a legislator. They can speak out on issues."
Ginsburg added that she doesn't think of "family and peace as women's issues--they are human issues. When you speak of women's concerns, people want to put them off in a corner. I think social concerns are for all humanity."
Born, a partner in the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter, noted, "Justice O'Connor supports other women judges and lawyers. She is very good about swearing women judges in, and she shows up at most women's judiciary events."
U.S. Court of Claims Judge Christine Mettesheim said that when she was sworn in, on the Monday following this year's big snow, "Unlike everybody else, Justice O'Connor didn't call to ask if my investiture was postponed, she just came."
Between 150 and 200 people crowded into Born's house last night. The saying "sober as a judge" was certainly true, since the crush of the crowd kept many away from the bar, which was dispensing wine and soft drinks.
Marcia D. Greenberger, managing attorney of the Women's Law Center, made a lively defense of "Inequality of Sacrifice," an analysis of President Reagan's budget published by a coalition that included the center. "The Reagan budget in fact hurts women very severely in many ways. The President's Commission on Economic Opportunities has suggested that by the year 2000 women and children may make up the entire poor."
Betty Dooley, head of the Women's Research and Educational Institute of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, said, "Reagan has helped us in one way--even some of the Republican women in Congress are beginning to be so concerned they are coming out in favor of women's equities."
Greenberger agreed. "Women are beginning to understand they need to support candidates who favor women's issues, because women are being hurt so dramatically."
O'Connor said that the increase in the number of female judges and attorneys would help in adjudicating family issues, "because women understand them better."
Greenberger introduced a long list of "honorables," including Judge Patricia M. Wald the U.S. Court of Appeals here and Judge Gladys Kessler of the D.C. Superior Court and president of the National Association of Women Judges.
Kessler said that all female judges needed to remember "to put out a helping hand to the young women law students coming along now." From 3,000 to 4,000 women are expected to attend this week's 14th National Conference on Women and the Law, she said.
"And a few right-thinking men. We don't exclude men," said Hedi Pasichow, one of the organizers of the conference that runs tomorrow through Sunday at the convention center.
The proceeds from the benefit go to furthering the work of the center, a nonprofit legal organization that protects women's interests in employment, equal pay, education, family and health legislation.