Ruth Ida Abrams (December 26, 1930 – September 12, 2019) was the first female justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, where she served from 1978 to 2000, and the first female appellate justice in Massachusetts.[1][2][3][4]

Ruth Abrams
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
Appointed byMichael Dukakis
Preceded byPaul Reardon
Succeeded byRobert J. Cordy
Personal details
Ruth Ida Abrams

(1930-12-26)December 26, 1930
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedSeptember 12, 2019(2019-09-12) (aged 88)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma materRadcliffe College
Harvard Law School

Justice Abrams was a graduate of Radcliffe College's Class of 1953. She went on to graduate from Harvard Law School[5] as one of approximately a dozen women in the Class of 1956. She was an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County (MA), where she helped prosecute Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler"[1] and also served with the State Attorney General's Office. Justice Abrams also served as special counsel to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and as a Superior Court Judge before then-Governor Michael Dukakis appointed her to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 1978, the first woman on the Court. It would be another 19 years before another woman was appointed a justice to the SJC. Serving with distinction, she retired from the court at the age of 70.

Among her notable decisions on the court were ones protecting the rights of pregnant women against discrimination in disability insurance, strengthening the rights of divorced women, and a pioneering grant of visitation rights after a breakup to a lesbian who had helped raise her partner’s son.[1]

She came from a family with a strong legal tradition. Abrams is the daughter of Samuel Abrams, an attorney and Harvard Law School graduate who had the unique distinction of being the first man in America to be graduated from Harvard Law and have both a daughter and a son (George S. Abrams) who also were graduated from the law school. Her other sister was also a lawyer, she had an uncle who was a lawyer who had a son and son-in-law who were lawyers too.[6]

Justice Abrams was noted for being a mentor to countless women attorneys, many of whom followed her to the bench. Margaret Marshall, the next female justice of the SJC and later its first female chief justice, cited her for encouraging her to apply for a judgeship.[2]

In 1994, when rent control in Massachusetts was repealed, Abrams was living in a rent controlled apartment.[7]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Saltzman, Jonathan (15 September 2019). "Ruth I. Abrams, the first woman on the state's highest court, dies at 88". Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Seelye, Katherine Q. (25 September 2020). "Ruth Abrams, Judge Who Broke a Glass Ceiling Installed in 1692, Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  3. ^ Jewish Women's Archive: "Ruth Abrams", accessed May 30, 2018
  4. ^ Court Listener-Judge Ruth Abrams
  5. ^ "Justices and Judges" (PDF). Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  6. ^ "Transcript of Interview with Ruth I. Abrams" (PDF). Stanford Law School. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  7. ^ "'THE WEEK'". Vol. 46, no. 20. National Review. October 24, 1994. p. 10-24.
Legal offices
Preceded by Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Succeeded by