Shirley Hufstedler

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Shirley Hufstedler
Shirley Hufstedler, November 12, 2007.jpg
1st United States Secretary of Education
In office
November 30, 1979 – January 20, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Patricia Harris (Health, Education, and Welfare)
Succeeded by Ted Bell
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
September 12, 1968 – November 30, 1979
Appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Robert Boochever
Personal details
Born Shirley Ann Mount
(1925-08-24)August 24, 1925
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Died March 30, 2016(2016-03-30) (aged 90)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Seth Hufstedler
Education University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (BBA)
Stanford University (LLB)

Shirley Ann Mount Hufstedler (August 24, 1925 – March 30, 2016) was an American lawyer and judge who served as the first United States Secretary of Education, under President Jimmy Carter. At the time of her secretarial appointment, she was the highest ranking woman in the federal judiciary.


Shirley Mount Hufstedler was born August 24, 1925 in Denver, Colorado.[1] As a teenager she was befriended by famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle after her father built the Pyle house in Albuquerque.[2] She attended the University of New Mexico (B.B.A. 1945) and Stanford Law School (LL.B. 1949).[1][3]

Hufstedler had a distinguished career at the highest levels of legal and public service. She began in private practice in Los Angeles in 1950. From 1960 to 1961, she served as Special Legal Consultant to the Attorney General of California in the complex Colorado River litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.[4] In 1961, she was appointed Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court,[1] a position to which she was elected in 1962.

In 1966, she was appointed Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.[1] President Lyndon Johnson appointed her Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1968.[1] She was not the first woman to serve on a federal Court of Appeals (the second after Florence Allen); but, for at least part of her tenure, she was the only woman serving among approximately 100 federal judges nationwide. She served on the Court of Appeals for eleven years before President Jimmy Carter appointed her to be the first U.S. Secretary of Education in 1979.[4]

In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Hufstedler's name and picture.[5]

In 1981, Hufstedler returned to private life, teaching and practicing law. She was a partner in the firm Hufstedler & Kaus, now merged into Morrison & Foerster. She was the recipient of 20 honorary doctoral degrees from American universities. She served on boards of trustees, governing boards and visiting committees for numerous foundations, institutions, corporations and universities.

Hufstedler was considered to be a candidate for the Supreme Court if a vacancy had occurred under the Jimmy Carter presidency.[6][7] On March 30, 2016, Hufstedler died in Glendale, California, from cerebrovascular disease at the age of 90.[8][9]

She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sobel, Robert (1990). Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774-1989. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-313-26593-8. 
  2. ^ Connell, Christopher (May 4, 1980). "Education chief background rich". Tuscaloosa News. AP. 
  3. ^ Roberts, Sam (31 March 2016). "Shirley Hufstedler, Judge and Cabinet's First Education Secretary, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Vile, John R. (2003). Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 558. ISBN 978-1-57607-989-8. 
  5. ^ Wulf, Steve (2015-03-23). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  6. ^ Newman, Roger K. (2009). The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law. Yale University Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-300-11300-6. 
  7. ^ Biskupic, Joan (2005). Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice. Ecco Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-06-059018-5. 
  8. ^ Bloomberg Shirley Hufstedler, first US Education Secretary dies at 90
  9. ^ "Shirley Hufstedler, Pioneering Judge and First Cabinet-Level Education Secretary, Is Dead at 90". The New York March 31, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
New seat Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by
Robert Boochever
Political offices
Preceded by
Patricia Harris
as United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
United States Secretary of Education
Succeeded by
Ted Bell