National Association of Women Judges Celebrates Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment With Nashville Conference

October 13, 2021

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw welcomed to Nashville a banquet hall full of female judges from across the United States and far-off corners of the world to the 43rd Annual National Association of Women Judges Conference (NAWJ), where attendees celebrated women’s suffrage while learning about the most significant topics facing the judiciary today.

Although conference organizers had hoped to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, in Nashville in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed plans. No matter the year, Nashville is a fitting place to celebrate this historic victory for women’s rights.

“We played an important role in the women’s suffrage movement,” Judge Crenshaw said. “101 years ago, circa 1920, 35 states had approved the 19th Amendment. In order to have it passed, the Amendment needed just one more state to vote for ratification. So, the eyes of the nation turned to Tennessee and right here in Nashville is where the Tennessee General Assembly considered ratification in August of 1920.”

The ratification debate came down to a single vote when the state’s youngest legislator at the time changed from a “nay” to a “yea.” The rest is history.

“We are the great state of the ratification of the 19th amendment,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger A. Page. “The Supreme Court is honored to have you in Nashville. We wish you a great conference.”

Chief Justice Page spoke about the ratification and the important role of suffragists, one of whom hailed from his hometown of Henderson, Tennessee. He spoke of the important role his mother, grandmother and female role models played in his life. Following a tribute to one of those role models, the late Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark, he thanked NAWJ members for making a difference.

 “We realize the important duty that society imposes on us to lead in advancing diversity, accessibility and inclusion in the law,” Chief Justice Page said. “We support the efforts of the National Association of Women Judges in its efforts to promote access to justice in rural areas and, further, to address the inequities that women, diverse people, and people of limited means face daily. We applaud your efforts to eradicate discrimination of all kinds within the judicial system.”

The welcome and networking breakfast was jam packed, including a gospel performance by The Temple Praise Choir of Temple Church and a proclamation written for the NAWJ, read by Zulfat Suara, Council Member at Large, Metropolitan Council and presented to Conference Chair and U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Holmes. Judge Holmes also received a NAWJ Conference Recognition Award.

Numerous plenary and breakout sessions followed, including Making a Difference On and Off the Bench. During this session, Deborah Taylor Tate, Director of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts and Co-Chair of the National Judicial Opioid Task Force, served as a panelist. She spoke about training for judges on addiction and recovery and developing court programs for individualized opioid addiction and recovery services.

Judge W. Neal McBrayer of Tennessee Court of Appeals served as a panelist for the breakout session Ethics, Lies & Videotape – “Reel” Life and Real-Life Ethics and Professionalism Issues.

Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr. of Tennessee Court of Appeals and Judge Angelita Dalton of Tennessee’s 20th Judicial District Criminal Court served as speakers for the breakout session How Can We Benefit From Our Generational Differences? A Discussion With The Silent Generation, Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers.

Judge Rachell Bell of Davidson County General Sessions Court served as a speaker for the breakout session Access to Justice for LGBTQ Youth. Judge Sheila Calloway of Davidson County Juvenile Court organized and spoke on a panel entitled Laws That Marginalize: Impact on Our Courts and Our Communities.

Various sessions on women’s voting rights were held throughout the conference, capped off with a special reenactment of the Tennessee Vote on Ratification of the 19th Amendment. Other plenary and breakout sessions included: The Rural America Our Legal System Has Left Behind; The Woman’s Hour: A Conversation between Demetria Kalodimos and Elaine Weiss about The Great Fight to Win the Vote; The New Faces of Suffrage: Restoration of Voting Rights; Global Architects: Conversations About Ethics Around the World; Pathways to Justice: How Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Impact Court Proceedings; First Amendment Issues in Public Educational Settings; Gender Equity in Judicial Writing; Technology: Friend or Foe?; Supreme Court Review by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky; The Human Side of Judging; Implicit Racial Bias In Criminal Sentencing; Contemporary Challenges: Attacks on the Courts and the New Normal; and Expecting the Unexpected: Managing Obstacles Involving Self-Represented Litigants.

The conference took more than two years to plan and dozens of Tennessee judges, attorneys and others played a vital role in making the conference a success.

Conference Chair
Hon. Barbara D. Holmes

Honorary Conference Chair
Hon. Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey

Executive Planning
Margaret L. Behm, Esq.
Susan Blair
Hon. Cornelia “Connie” Clark
Hon. Alistair E. Newbern
Deborah Taylor Tate, Esq.

At-Large Planning
Michael G. Abelow, Esq.
Hon. Emily Chafa
Sherie L. Edwards, Esq.
Lynda Motes Hill, Esq.
Linda W. Knight, Esq.
Edward D. Lanquist, Esq.
Hon. W. Neal McBrayer
Erin Palmer Polly, Esq.
Maria M. Salas, Esq.
Hon. Jane B. Stranch
Joycelyn Stevenson, Esq.
Hon. Aleta A. Trauger

Educational Programming
Susan Blair, Chair
Hon. Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey, Chair
Bill Harbison, Esq., Chair
Hon. Barbara D. Holmes, Chair

Entertainment Programming
Tim Warnock, Esq., Chair

Keynote Speakers
Thomas H. Forrester, Chair
Charles K. Grant, Chair, Chair
Hon. Carol L. McCoy, Chair

First Time Attendees/New Judges/Mentoring
Hon. Angelita Blackshear Dalton, Chair
Amy Willoughby Bryant, Esq., Chair

Friends
Hon. Lynda F. Jones, Chair
Brandi Bruns, Chair
Aubrey “Trey” B. Harwell, III, Esq., Chair

Hospitality Suite, Social and Special Events
Monica Mackey
Hon. Anne C. Martin
Hon. Patricia Head Moskal
Hon. Sheila Calloway
Danielle Nellis, Esq.

International Judges
Hon. Judith C. Chirlin, Chair
Hon. Ana L. Escobar, Chair
Hon. Lisa S. Walsh

Volunteers
Hon. Melissa Blackburn, Chair
Hon. Allegra Walker, Chair
Stephanie J. Williams, Esq., Chair

Yellow Roses/Perfect 36
Hon. Aleta A. Trauger, Chair
Hon. Barbara D. Holmes, Chair
Henry E. Hildebrand III, Esq., Chair

Law School Liaison
Hon. William C. Koch, Jr., Nashville School of Law
Dean Susan L. Kay, Vanderbilt School of Law
Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales, Belmont College of Law
Dean Deborah Farringer, Belmont College of Law