Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky appeared for a town hall meeting in Wittemyer Courtroom sponsored by Colorado Law’s Women’s Law Caucus (WLC) on Jan. 18, 2017. After an introduction by WLC Executive Board Member Jordan Henry (’18), Justice Dubofsky answered questions about her career and current events.
She spoke about her work as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Senator Walter Mondale, during which time she played a supporting role in passing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. She also discussed her rise to prominence as Colorado’s first female deputy attorney general, followed by becoming the first woman (and youngest person) to be appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Dubofsky also spoke about life after leaving the bench, when she became nationally known as a gay rights advocate and argued the landmark case Romer v. Evans, which she won, before the United States Supreme Court in 1995.
Throughout the evening, the former justice dispensed cogent answers to a range of questions about the case and its relationship to present-day politics. She recalled relaxing during the Romer oral arguments when Justice Kennedy asked her opponent a question (“Is there any precedent that you can cite to the court where we’ve upheld a law like this?”), signaling that the justice might side with the appellees (he did, as did Justice O’Connor; Amendment 2 was declared unconstitutional by a 6-3 vote.) She predicted that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (relating to transgender rights and bathroom restrictions) will eventually be declared unconstitutional.
She advised young women to be creative in balancing the needs of their careers and families. She discussed the variety of public interest careers available to lawyers, and the impact one can have by focusing on one’s own community.
Toward the end of the evening, a student asked for advice on how to become politically and socially active. Dubofsky’s response reflected a personal philosophy that surely explains her drive, but also offers a slogan for a new generation of lawyers: “Find something you really care about. If you’re not already working on it, start. If you are, work harder.”
To learn more about Justice Dubofsky’s life and achievements, pick up a copy of Susan Berry Casey’s new biography, Appealing for Justice: One Colorado Lawyer, Four Decades, and the Landmark Gay Rights Case: Romer v. Evans, available locally at the Boulder Book Store, The Tattered Cover, and online at Amazon in paperback or electronic format.
Pictured (L-R): Jennifer Sullivan, Lindsey Knapton ('18), Jordan Henry ('18), Justice Dubofsky, Jennifer Benson ('18), Yolanda Clarke ('18)