Rosalie Wahl was the first woman to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court, an accomplishment that inspired women across the state and nation. But, it's a feat she said she never would have accomplished without the support of other women.
As a guest on MPR's Voices of Minnesota series in 1995, Wahl told interviewer Catherine Winter about an important moment in her life: when she decided to join a women's legal fraternity during her second year at William Mitchell Law School.
"All of a sudden I felt like the ugly duckling," she said in the interview. "I thought I was a duckling and suddenly I discovered I was a swan. Because here they were."
Wahl was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1977 by Gov. Rudy Perpich. She said her appointment was a direct result of the political organizing that women had been doing in the 1970s.
"The DFL feminist caucus had really gotten out there," she said. "They were at that time saying 'if we can't make policy, we won't make coffee.'"
They knew that while governors could appoint women to executive positions, once he or she was out of office so were the women. So, they set their sights on the Supreme Court bench, "that's a long-lasting thing," Wahl said.
She began her appointment with widespread excitement from women, and three filings against her by men in her first election.
"You know after all, I was taking a job that was a 'man's job,'" she said. "Judge and male were just synonymous in those days. And I'm sure there was some of that thought; I mean how could I be qualified, I was only a woman?"
Wahl served on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1977 to 1994. She passed away in 2013.