175 Makers of History: Patricia Collins Butler

Patricia Collins Butler 31L
Attorney; Founder of the Supreme Court Historical Society

Patricia Butler

When she died at 101 in 2009, Patricia Collins Butler, one of the first three women to graduate from Emory School of Law, left a trailblazing legacy.

Butler enrolled at Emory in 1928 and finished second in her class. After struggling to find a position in Atlanta, she was hired to establish the antitrust library for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She went on to work for sixteen attorneys general, including Robert Kennedy.

With the case Johnson v. Shaughnessy in 1949, she became one of the first female lawyers to argue before the Supreme Court. Despite being incredibly nervous and taking over in an emergency, Butler won her case. Together with her friend Chief Justice Warren Burger, she founded the Supreme Court Historical Society in 1974.