Friday, November 29, 2013

6 famous speeches by women about the law from The Eloquent Woman Index

Whether they're speaking in courtrooms or in the court of public opinion, women weigh in on legal issues--and the legal profession--when they speak. Often, those speeches about the law have come at a high price to them personally, where they're putting their personal information on the line to make a difference. Come to order, then, for this sampling of women's speeches about legal issues, drawn from The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches:
  1. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?" was a public attempt to convince potential jurors who might be called to weigh in on whether she was wrongly arrested for voting in a presidential election. She gave this speech nearly 50 times in the process, and we've got a great and detailed legal analysis of it from the Federal Judicial Center. 
  2. Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches were an effort to regain control over her public image, following spurious newspaper reports about her alleged drug use and erratic behavior. The celebrity sharpshooter turned out to be an effective legal advocate in her own behalf.
  3. Anita Hill's Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas happened during his confirmation hearings for his appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court justice--and detailed her sexual harrassment by Thomas. While it did not change his appointment, her testimony prompted thousands of women to step forward about their own harrassment.
  4. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor spoke on "Portia's Progress" in 1991, at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of women's admission to New York University's law school, drawing on her own struggles advancing as a woman in the legal profession.
  5. Heidi Damon faced her attacker in court and, following a case in which he was tried for attacking and nearly raping her, shed the "Jane Doe" label. In taking back her name publicly, she made herself less of a victim and more of a role model, empowering other women to speak out about attacks.
  6. Caroline Criado-Perez gave a speech on talking back to cyber bullies that detailed her own experiences after she successfully campaigned to put historic women's images on UK currency. After she shares the violent sexual epithets hurled at her online, she counters what she was told about the police being unable to pursue her attackers, making a legal case for pursuing online trolls.
If you're interested in more law-related speeches by women, check out these 9 famous speeches by women legislators, 6 famous speeches by women about voting, and these 13 famous speeches by women about death and dying, including two sets of testimony in Congress.

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