Business & Professional Women's Club to Allred, February 6, 1935
Governor Allred was sent a copy of this resolution from the Business & Professional Women's Club of Brownwood praising his appointment of Sarah T. Hughes as the first female district judge in Texas. The target of this particular resolution was State Senator Claud Westerfeld of Dallas, who said that Mrs. Hughes "ought to be home washing dishes."
Sarah Tilghman Hughes was originally from Baltimore, Maryland. She started a career as a science teacher, then went to George Washington University Law School, earning a law degree while working on the Washington, D.C., police force. She married a classmate, George Hughes, who was from Palestine, Texas, and after graduation the couple began a private law practice in Dallas. Mrs. Hughes became one of the first women elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1935, Governor Allred appointed her to a vacancy on the Fourteenth District Court in Dallas, making her the first woman state district judge in Texas. In 1936, she was elected in her own right.
Judge Hughes was known for speedy and impartial administration of justice. She was a key player in the construction of Dallas' first juvenile detention center and in securing the right of Texas women to serve on juries. She continued to serve as district judge until 1961, when President John F. Kennedy named her to the federal bench. Judge Hughes became a national figure on November 22, 1963, when she administered the oath of office to Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One following the assassination in Dallas of President Kennedy.
As a federal judge, her most well-known decisions include Roe v. Wade, 1970 (the legalization of abortion in the United States), Shultz v. Brookhaven General Hospital, 1969 (equal pay for equal work for women), and Taylor v. Sterrett, 1972 (upgrading prisoner treatment in the Dallas County jail). She was also involved with several cases related to conman Billie Sol Estes and to the Sharpstown stock fraud scandal. Judge Hughes died in 1985.
Business & Professional Women's Club to Allred, February 6, 1935, Records of James V Allred, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.