Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina

Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina

Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina

Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina


In Madam Chief Justice, editors W. Lewis Burke Jr. and Joan P. Assey chronicle the remarkable career of Jean Hoefer Toal, South Carolina's first female Supreme Court Chief Justice. As a lawyer, legislator, and judge, Toal is one of the most accomplished womenin South Carolina history. In this volume, contributors, including two United States Supreme Court Justices, federal and state judges state leaders, historians, legal scholars, leading attorneys, family, and friends, provide analysis, perspective, and biographical information about the life and career of this dynamic leader and her role in shaping South Carolina.
Growing up in Columbia during the 1950s and 60s, Jean Hoefer was a youthful witness to the civil rights
movement in the state and nation. Observing the state's premier civil rights lawyer Matthew J. Perry Jr. in court encouraged her to attend law school, where she met her husband, Bill Toal. When she was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1968, fewer than one hundred women had been admitted in the state's history. From then forward she was both a leader and a role model. As a lawyer she excelled in trial and appellate work and won major victories on behalf of Native Americans and women. In 1975, Toal was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and despite her age and gender quickly
became one of the most respected members of that body. During her fourteen years as a House member, Toal promoted major legislation on many issuesincluding constitutional law, criminal law, utilities regulation, local government, state appropriations, workers compensation, and freedom of information.
In 1988, Toal was sworn in as the first female justice on the Supreme Court of South Carolina, where she made her mark through her preparation and insight. She was elected Chief Justice in 2000, becoming the first woman ever to hold the highest position in the state's judiciary. As Chief Justice, Toal not only modernized her court, but also the state's judicial system. As Toal's two daughters write in their chapter, the traits their mother brings to her professional life--exuberance, determination, and loyalty--are the same traits she demonstrates in her personal and family life. As a child, Toal loved roller skating in the lobby of the post office,a historic building that now serves as the Supreme Court of South Carolina. From a child in Columbia to Madam Chief Justice, her story comes full circle in this
compelling account of her life and influence.
Madam Chief Justice features a foreword by Sandra Day O'Connor, retired associate justice of the United State Supreme Court, and an introduction by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.


We often celebrate “FIRSTS,” and for good reason. Firsts are important. They mark the end of one era and the beginning of another. Once a threshold is crossed, it becomes much harder to go back. But we often forget that being a first is not always easy. It can take a long time, a lot of work, and at least a few false starts.

I know a little about being a first. in 1981 I became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States when President Reagan nominated me to the seat left open by Justice Stewart’s retirement. I was the only woman to serve on the Supreme Court until 1993, when President Clinton nominated Justice Ginsburg to the seat left open by Justice White’s retirement. I was thrilled when I heard about Justice Ginsburg’s nomination. At last I knew that while I was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, I would not be the last. Today there are three female U.S. Supreme Court Justices. a new era has certainly begun.

Jean Hoefer Toal has been a lot of firsts. in 1988 she became the first woman to be elected to the Supreme Court of South Carolina. in 2000 Jean became the first woman to serve as that court’s chief justice. She is also the first native Columbian and the first Roman Catholic to serve on South Carolina’s highest court. Prior to her judicial service, Jean became the first woman in South Carolina to chair a standing committee in the state House of Representatives. Jean is truly a trailblazer in her home state.

This book discusses Jean’s firsts. But it also does so much more. the book begins with Jean’s early days as a lawyer, describing her path from researching in the basement of a law firm to representing clients in the courtroom. You will learn about the important cases Jean tried and their impact on the law and the lives of people in South Carolina. the book will then take you through Jean’s campaign for public office and her days in the state legislature. and you will of course learn about Jean’s groundbreaking election to the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

respect, one dessert spoon at a time

David caron

There is an extraordinary scene in Hervé Guibert’s short, unsparing hospital diary, Cytomegalovirus. Hervé, the narrator, is being prepped for the eye operation that could add some time and a degree of comfort to his life but might also make him—a photographer and lover of beautiful boys—lose his sight. “There is an eye at stake,” he notes, and it sounds almost like an understatement. Cytomegalovirus, a form of herpes normally harmless to otherwise healthy people, killed a great number of people with aids at the time the book takes place. and Hervé is so ill, so weak. in fact, as he is writing these lines, the young author has about two months to live. But when a nurse he loathes barges into his hospi-

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