Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 31, 2016


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Hufstedler, Ex-Cabinet Member, Ninth Circuit Judge Dies at 90


By a MetNews Staff Writer






Shirley M. Hufstedler, who left the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to become the first U.S. secretary of education, died yesterday at the age of 90.

Funeral arrangements are pending, Dan Marmalefsky, a Morrison and Foerster partner who worked with Hufstedler for the past 35 years, told the MetNews.

“She was an exceptional judge and lawyer and an even more wonderful colleague,” Marmalefsky said. He said that Hufstedler had been ill for several months.  

She was appointed to the education post by President Jimmy Carter. Miriam Vogel, a former Court of Appeal justice who is senior of counsel to Morrison & Foerster, told Education Week, which ran an obituary on its website yesterday:

“She was extremely proud to have been the first person to hold that position and was deeply honored by the president’s confidence in her.”

At the law firm, Hufstedler served as a mentor to many of the younger partners, and to women in particular, through a hands-on and very patient approach, Vogel added.

“I know how much she valued education, and how she tried to be the best teacher she could be in whatever situation she was working,” Vogel said.

She continued to comment on education issues after leaving the department, arguing that K-12 schooling, particularly in poor districts, was underfunded.

Return to Los Angeles

When Carter left office in 1981, she returned to Los Angeles and joined her husband, Seth Hufstedler, at the law firm that later became Hufstedler & Kaus. That firm merged into Morrison & Foerster in 1995, and she was senior of counsel to the firm, where her husband remains active, at the time of her death.

Hufstedler graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1945 and from Stanford Law School in 1949.

She began her legal career in 1950 as a private practitioner in Los Angeles. She served as special legal consultant to then-Attorney General Stanley Mosk from 1960 to 1961, when then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed her to the Los Angeles Superior Court.

She was elevated by Brown to the Court of Appeal in 1966, and appointed to the Ninth Circuit by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Among her law clerks at the Ninth Circuit were Frances Rothschild, now presiding justice of Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal; Dennis Perluss, now presiding justice of Div. Seven; and Helen Bendix, now a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

Proposition 187 Counsel

Hufstedler served as special counsel to then-Gov. Gray Davis in the settlement of the challenges to Proposition 187, a state initiative designed to deter illegal immigration.

Hufstedler served on the governing boards of numerous institutions and groups, including the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Institute for Judicial Administration, the American Law Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Institute for Court Management, American Judicature Society, the Constitutional Rights Foundation and on visiting committees of law schools across the country.  She also delivered the Morrison Lecture, a major feature of the State Bar of California’s annual convention.

In addition, she was chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, and sat on the board of directors for Harman International Industries and was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology.

She was a visiting professor at UC Irvine, the University of Iowa, the University of Vermont, and Stanford Law School.

Many Honors

Among her many honors was the John P. Frank Award, presented by the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in 2006, which is given to an outstanding lawyer practicing in the federal courts within the circuit, and the American Inns of Court Circuit Professionalism Award.

Education Week noted that she authored the dissenting opinion in Lau v. Nichols, in which the Ninth Circuit held that the San Francisco school district had not violated the rights of Chinese immigrant students who did not receive supplemental instruction in the English language. That ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1974.

Survivors, besides her husband, include their son, Steve Hufstedler, a physician in Orange County, and several grandchildren.


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