Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

In re Goodell Supreme Court of Wisconsin (1875)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

In Goodell, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin refused to include women within the construction of the word “person” and denied Goodell admission to the bar because she was a woman. Judge Ryan noted that that extending the meaning of “person” to include females as well could result in perverse interpretations of the law, and provided examples of the ridiculous results he foresaw, including the “prosecution [of a woman] for the paternity of a bastard…” In support of his conclusion that a gender-neutral statute did not mean that women could be admitted to the bar, Judge Ryan also maintained that the admission of women to the bar was not something contemplated by the state legislators who enacted of the legislation in question; thus he found “no statutory authority for the admission of females to the bar of any court of [Wisconsin].”