Education and early career
Erna Friedental attended the girls' schools in Legnica and Wroclaw and gained her baccalaureate in Racibórz in 1911. She studied for a semester at Heidelberg University and then switched from medicine to law in Wroclaw, Munich and Berlin. In December 1914 she finished her studies with a doctorate from Wroclaw. Women were not yet permitted to take the state legal exams, so she initially worked in social welfare and then as an assistant at a law practice. She married for the first time in 1916, and lived in Belgium until 1918, where her husband worked as a lawyer in the German civil administration of occupied Belgium; she also worked as an auxiliary officer there. After the war ended, she found employment with the Bund Deutscher Architekten ((in German) "Association of German Architects") and various law firms.
Women were allowed to take the German law exams in 1921, and Scheffler became a clerk in 1922. Between then and 1925, when she graduated as a full lawyer, she divorced her first husband. From late 1925 to 1928 she was a lawyer in the Berlin district courts I to III, and in the district court of Berlin-Mitte. From 1932 she was a permanent relief worker at the Berlin-Mitte district court.
In November 1933, she was found to be "non-Aryan" and received an employment ban that was backdated to 1 March 1933. She received only a small pension. Her second marriage, to George Scheffler, was denied in 1934 because she was Halbjüdin (half-Jewish). She worked as an accountant in a friend's business and distributed food during the war. From January 1945 until the end of the war, she hid in a Gartenhäuschen (little garden house) outside Berlin.
After the war
Immediately after the war she married George Scheffler and returned to judicial duties in May 1945, first as Regional Councillor and later as Regional Director of the Landgericht Berlin (Regional Court of Berlin) in the Justice Service. After the 1948 currency reform, she became a Councillor in 1949 in the Düsseldorf Verwaltungsgericht (Administrative Court). On the German "Judges' Day" in 1950, she gave an address about equality between men and women, and was thus recommended as a Federal Judge. She was appointed on 7 September 1951, the only woman in the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, serving as a judge there until 1963 when her third term ended. Thereafter, she was an expert for the Interior Committee of the German Bundestag. She died in 1983 at her daughter's house in London.
The judge's writings and opinions were noted especially for their family and gender equality principles. She wrote for the equality in the family unit of the man and the woman (BVerfGE 3, 225), by which Article 6 and Article 3 paragraph 2 GG to were used for the first time, and which are still quoted. The abolition of the paternal random decision in family law (BVerfGE | 10, 59), the abolition of discrimination against women in the agricultural farms Law (BVerfGE 15, 337) and decisions on equality in social security law (BVerfGE 17, 1, 38, 62) have been decisively influenced by her pronouncements.
After stepping down, she continued to serve as a member of the Permanent Deputation of German Jurists, and in numerous international women's and gender politically oriented associations.
- http://bsbndb.bsb.lrz-muenchen.de/sfz109147.html Deutsche Biographie, Scheffler, Erna, geborene Friedenthal
This article was translated from its equivalent in the German Wikipedia on 18 July 2009.
- Erhard Lange HM: Dr. Erna Scheffler, born Friedenthal (1893-1983). A Breslauerin - first Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court. In: Yearbook of the Silesian Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Wroclaw. Volume 42-44, 2001-2003, p. 521-576.
- Till van Rahden: Democracy and paternal authority. The Karlsruhe deciding ruling in the political culture of the early Federal Republic. In: Contemporary Historical Research. Volume 2, 2005, p. 160-179.
- Christian Waldhoff: Erna Scheffler - first Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court. In: Yearbook of the public justice of today. Neue Folge, Band 56, 2008, p. 261-268. ISSN 0075-2517