Ohio Supreme Court Justice Florence Ellinwood Allen
Florence Ellinwood Allen, the first woman to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio, was named today as one of four 2010 Great Ohioans by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and the Capitol Square Foundation.
Selected from nominations submitted by individuals and organizations throughout Ohio, the awards commemorate special Ohioans who have played a significant role in an event or series of events of lasting significance in World, American or Ohio history. Honorees must have been born in Ohio or lived in the state for at least five years. In addition, 25 years must have eclipsed since the commemorated event, in which the honoree participated.
Justice Allen, who served on the Court from Jan. 1, 1923, to March 23, 1934, was also the first woman elected to a court of last resort, the first woman elected to a judicial office in Ohio, the first woman assistant county prosecutor in the United States and the first woman appointed to a federal appeals court judgeship.
Born in Salt Lake City on March 23, 1884, Justice Allen, was the only woman in a class of 100 students at the University of Chicago Law Department when she enrolled in 1909. She completed her studies at the New York University Law School with a law degree in 1913, graduating second in her class. She was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1914 and began a general practice in Cleveland in 1919. Later that year she was appointed Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor.
On Nov. 2, 1920, she was elected to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas bench and served until her election to the Ohio Supreme Court on Nov. 7, 1922. She was re-elected to a second term on Nov. 6, 1928.
President Truman considered naming Florence Allen to the U.S. Supreme Court. When he conferred with the sitting justices on the court, they rejected the notion “claiming a woman’s presence would inhibit their conference deliberations, where, with shirt collars open and shoes off, they decided the legal issues of the day,” according to a study published by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Laura Brill.
As the first woman appointed and confirmed to a federal appeals court bench in 1934, Justice Allen served for 32 years on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Her portrait was presented to the Supreme Court on March 15, 1993. Justice Allen died on Sept. 12, 1966 at her home in Waite Hill. Her portrait is displayed in one of the attorney waiting rooms on the first floor of the Ohio Judicial Center. Richard Finan, chairman of the board and former Ohio Senate president, noted that “this year’s class of Great Ohioans recognizes four remarkable individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their fields, Ohio and the world.” Honorees and their achievements are chronicled in a permanent Great Ohioan exhibit, which will be part of the Ohio Statehouse Museum. Among the six categories in which to nominate a Great Ohioan, Justice Allen was chosen from the government/military/public service/religion category.
Contact: Chris Davey or Bret Crow at 614.387.9250.