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Renee Knake Jefferson, author of “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court.” (Courtesy photo)

As The New York Times reported in 1971, Mildred Lillie fortunately had no children. The article marveled at how she maintained “a bathing beauty figure” in her 50s. Lillie was not, however, featured in the news as a swimsuit model.

Instead, she was shortlisted. President Richard Nixon had included her among six potential nominees on his list for the U.S. Su­preme Court. At the time, Lillie had served as a judge on California courts for more than 20 years. Her resume was as competitive, if not more so than others on Nixon’s list. Lillie could have been the nation’s first female justice, but she was not chosen. Instead, Nixon claimed to care about diversity but preserved an all-male court.

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