Barbara Babcock, a pioneering legal voice in women’s rights and criminal defense who became Stanford’s first female law professor 48 years ago, has died at age 81. “She was a game-changer,” said LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County judge who started at the law school in 1971, a year before Babcock arrived. Just ask Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When President Jimmy Carter and his attorney general, Griffin Bell, were planning in 1979 to choose a woman for the powerful federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., they considered a variety of candidates before hearing, emphatically, from Babcock, then in charge of the Civil Division in Bell’s Justice Department. One candidate stood out, she told them: Ginsburg, the prominent law professor and women’s rights advocate. As Babcock later recalled, she told her bosses that failing to choose “a woman who is so well qualified and more than any woman applicant in the country has paid her dues” would be “a slap in the face.” Ginsburg was nominated and confirmed in 1980. In 1993, when President Bill Clinton was considering her for the Supreme Court, Babcock, who had returned to teaching law at Stanford, “was again in my corner from start to finish,”… Read full this story
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