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Bessie Margolin, The Supreme Court’s Fair Labor Lawyer

Event 2021 0608: Marlene Trestman

Marlene Trestman is the author of Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin. Trestman’s Fair Labor Lawyer recounts Margolin’s thrilling and inspirational journey from New Orleans Jewish Orphans Home through the New Deal to the nation’s highest courts, where she shepherded the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. An elegant and tireless champion of wage and hour rights for American workers, Margolin opened doors for women, one courtroom at a time.

A portion of Trestman’s research was published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History, for which she was awarded the Journal’s Hughes-Gossett Award for the year’s best article. In 2013 she published an article detailing the Supreme Court arguments of Margolin and other pioneering female advocates, followed by her work, “The First 101 Women To Argue at the United States Supreme Court,” identifying Margolin as the 25th.

Prompted by her research on Margolin’s early life and by her own childhood in New Orleans as a Jewish orphan, Trestman is currently working on her second book, Most Fortunate Unfortunates: New Orleans’s Jewish Orphans’ Home, 1855-1946.

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