Donna C. Schuele is a faculty member in the political science department at California State University, Los Angeles. She teaches courses in civil rights and civil liberties; government power and accountability; American constitutional and legal history; gender, politics, and law; and the Supreme Court. In addition she regularly teaches lifelong learning courses for the Road Scholar program and the Chautauqua Institution, and speaks to community groups such as the League of Women Voters. She was awarded a Recognition for Teaching Excellence by the American Political Science Association in 2013. Her research focuses on the interaction of law and politics in American society across the nineteenth and twentieth century. She is currently writing a biography of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and most recently contributed the essay, "Love, Honor, and the Power of Law: Probating the Avila Estate in Frontier California," to On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American Southwest (2012). Her work has also been published in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Law & Social Inquiry, the American Journal of Family Law, Western Legal History, and California History, and her commentaries in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
This lecture examines the unique political climate that not only led to the nomination and confirmation of an obscure state court judge as the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, but also set the stage for the increased influence of the New Right in the Reagan Administration.