Darwin Payne

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Indomitable Sarah: The Life of Judge Sarah T. Hughes

Judge Sarah T. Hughes is perhaps best remembered as the woman who swore in Lyndon Johnson as president aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963, after President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. But long before then, she had been making headlines as the foremost woman Democrat in Texas. In 1935, over the protests of a local senator who said she should be home washing dishes, Sarah T. Hughes was appointed the first woman district judge in Texas. She was nominated for vice president of the United States at the 1952 Democratic National Convention, and in 1961 she was nominated by President John F. Kennedy as a federal district judge. A feminist who devoted her life to liberal causes, she presided over the three-judge panel and wrote the opinion that overturned Texas’s abortion laws in 1970 in Roe v. Wade, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision that has rocked American society and politics to this day.
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