Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 53

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One recurring narrative I read in the history was how a lot of the women
were "the wife of" or "the daughter of" to get their seats in Congress. That
changed over time to where women were able to get elected just on
their own merit. So, there was a progression there.
What was it like to research this history?
I would get up on Saturday morning, when everyone was quiet, and just
write, research, and read about these wonderful women.
I went back to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and the Declaration of
Sentiments, and read some of the bios. The organizing [to get suffrage]
was catch as catch can. [The suffragists] would write newspaper articles,
strike, and picket.
When you were reading the biographies of suffragists, did you have
any favorites?
Ida B. Wells was amazing for her journalism and anti-lynching campaign.
The educator Nannie Burroughs. Going back even further, the abolitionist
Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the second African American woman to earn a law
degree.
I also loved the story of Phoebe Ensminger Burn and her powers of persuasion [when] ratification was being sought for the 19th Amendment.
The House and Senate passed the joint resolution, and three-fourths of
the states had to ratify it. And they were tapped. It was looking like it
was not going to get passed. Tennessee was deadlocked and had been
for a while.
Then Ensminger Burn writes a letter to her son in the legislature, Harry
Burn: "Don't forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt with her 'Rats'!"
And he changed his vote. Burn said later, when people questioned him
about his vote, "I knew that a mother's advice is always safest for a boy
to follow, and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification."
I am the mother of two sons, so I love this story because it shows just
what a mother can do.
Your book is structured around legislative wins by decade. Why
was this important?
One thing I also try to describe, which may not be obvious to readers
unless they work with the legislature, is what mechanisms have to be
in place for a law to work.
We go to law school and understand what the law says. But does it occur
to people that if you're seeing money laundering in your neighborhood,
you need to do something about that? And laws need appropriations.
Otherwise it doesn't happen.
You might think, "Why isn't there a law about that?" Well, there has to
be the idea. There has to be the execution of the law. There has to be
funding for the law.
In some ways, I want the book to be like a civics lesson, especially for
young people. In order for our government to work, this is what has to
happen. To those who might be denigrating the government, it is government that gives you schools and clean water and air traffic controllers
and passports. All of that is government.
I've worked for the federal government for most of my career. It's disheartening sometimes to hear the noise that is always trying to make government smaller and not fund things. If you want schools, you have to pay

taxes. That's what government is. Let's have a grownup conversation
about government.
Your book actually charts the progress with data.
I did a pie chart at the end of each chapter by decade, with a snapshot
of the number of women representatives. In 1929, for the 70th Congress,
[there were] 5 women members out of 540. By 2019, for the 116th
Congress, it's 131 out of 541 members. That's record-breaking, but it's
still a small piece of the pie, actually.
When you look at history, how have the perceptions of women in
government changed?
So many women leaders were told that their ideas were unconstitutional,
too expensive, and so on. But today, their ideas are part of the fabric of
our lives. Today, we debate about how much the minimum wage should
be, not whether there should be a minimum wage. We wouldn't dream
of getting a credit card without knowing the APR. At first, these ideas
were bold and outrageous, and now they are mainstream.
What do you want younger generations to know about the making
of the 19th Amendment?
I am heartened by young people being engaged, but there's also a lot
of cynicism. I'm just astounded by how many people are not engaged
in our democracy. Everyone should be voting. I want kids to remember
how hard it was for people to get the vote, why it's important to vote.
And then, to always vote.
On a personal note, voting is in my DNA. My grandfather, W. C. Patton,
was the national director of voter education for the NAACP. His activism
led to the textbook First Amendment case NAACP v. Alabama, in which
Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, Arthur Shores, and Constance Baker
Motley successfully argued that the NAACP had the right to meet without
the state of Alabama keeping records on its membership. Every bar
member and law student knows this case. Alabama Public Television did
a lovely documentary on the case and [my grandfather's] work called
I Shall Not Be Moved: The Legacy of W. C. Patton.
There are still forces that are trying to let people think that voting just
doesn't matter. "Oh, just stay home." But remember why it matters. It's
not just voting. Voting is the least we can do. It's participating. It's being
informed. Democracy only works if the demos - the Greek word for
"the people" - vote.
It's every citizen's job to enable and protect our democracy. When polls
are closed, when voters are illegitimately struck from the rolls, when
districts are gerrymandered, democracy fails. As Dr. King said, "Injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Tracy Schorn is a writer based in Washington, D.C.

The D.C. Bar 2020 Conference on June 24 to 26 in
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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
The Opioid Litigation Wars
The Art Of Wellness: Law Firms Get Creative
Combating Secondary Trauma
Debating The Path Forward On Health Care Reform
Taking The Stand
On Further Review
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking Of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Special Section: Counting Down To The 2020 Conference
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - The Opioid Litigation Wars
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - The Art Of Wellness: Law Firms Get Creative
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Combating Secondary Trauma
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Debating The Path Forward On Health Care Reform
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Taking The Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Speaking Of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Special Section: Counting Down To The 2020 Conference
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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