How Maureen Reagan ‘packed’ the Supreme Court
Watching the Senate confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett reminded me of the promise my father made to my sister Maureen to put the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s a great piece of POTUS-SCOTUS history I haven’t told in many years.
Democrats and the media said a lot of nice things this week about the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal icon who in 1993 became the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
But I don’t remember hearing anyone – unfortunately, including the Republican senators – pay homage to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, or to my father Ronald Reagan, who put her there in 1981.
My father made his promise to my sister Maureen during the Republican primaries of 1980, when she was simultaneously campaigning for his campaign and the Equal Rights Amendment.
My father’s campaign team thought it was not a good idea for Maureen to be a public advocate for the ERA, since the Republican Party was against it at the time.
In fact, they were so concerned that my father might lose Republican votes in the primaries and not get the presidential nomination that the advisors called Maureen into campaign headquarters.
Lyn Nofziger, Mike Deaver, my father and several others in the office discussed with Maureen how they could get her off the campaign trail.
When they were done talking, Maureen looked at the staffers and said:
“If you can get your candidate to promise me that if elected the first person he will nominate to the Supreme Court will be a woman, I will stop campaigning for the ERA today.”