Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President

Described as "guiding the battles of the women's rights movement" by the New York Times, Marcia Greenberger is the founder and Co-President of the National Women's Law Center. The creation of the Center forty years ago established her as the first full-time women's rights legal advocate in Washington, D.C.

A recognized expert on women and the law, particularly in the areas of education and employment, health and reproductive rights, and family economic security, Ms. Greenberger has been a leader in securing the passage of major legislation, counsel in landmark litigation establishing new legal protections for women, and the author of numerous published articles. Examples include the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 providing critical protections against sexual harassment on the job, and Supreme Court victories strengthening protections for students and teachers against sex discrimination in schools.

Her leadership and contributions are reflected in the professional honors she has received and the numerous boards on which she has served. She has been given the James Wilson Award and the Alumni Award of Merit from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women "Beacon" Leadership Award, the American Bar Association Margaret Brent Award for 2012, the National Association of Women Lawyers' Arabella Babb Mansfield Award, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lafayette College as well as the Woman Lawyer of the Year Award by the D.C. Women's Bar Association and the William J. Brennan, Jr. Award by the District of Columbia Bar. Additionally, she has been recognized by Working Woman Magazine as one of the 25 heroines whose activities over 25 years have helped women in the workplace, by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful women, by Legal Times as a "Top Lawyer" and one of its "30 Champions", and by Legal Times and The National Law Journal as one of "Washington's Most Influential Women Lawyers." She has received the Dr. Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award from Women of Reform Judaism, A Woman of Genius Award from Trinity College, the "21 Leaders of the 21st Century" Award from Womens eNews, and the Woman of Distinction Award from Soroptimist International of the Americas. She was elected to the Court of Honor of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, received the Hope Award from Calvary Women's Shelter and awards from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association and the Center for Law and Social Policy. She received a Presidential appointment to the National Skill Standards Board, and currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Ms. Greenberger received her B.A. with honors and J.D. cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She practiced law with the Washington, D.C., firm of Caplin and Drysdale before she started and became Director of the Women's Rights Project of the Center for Law and Social Policy, which became the National Women's Law Center in 1981.

My Take

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: The Second Most Important Court in the Nation Must Fill Its Vacancies

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: June 06, 2013 at 09:55 am

I was delighted to be present when President Obama announced the nominations of Patricia A. Millet, Cornelia “Nina” Pillard, and Robert L. Wilkins to fill the three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday morning in the Rose Garden of the White House. It was a moment for celebration, but also to focus on the hard work ahead to urge Senators to give these exceptional nominees a confirmation promptly.

The President spoke forcefully about the critical importance of this court, noting that it is widely considered the second-most important court in the land and that it decides cases on a broad range of issues, from environmental protections to worker’s rights — and, I would add, women’s rights, and critical health and safety regulations that women need to protect themselves and their families. As the President put it, “the court’s decisions impact almost every aspect of our lives.”

But this President’s nominees have routinely had to wait significantly longer than the nominees by the Bush Administration. In fact, President Obama’s first outstanding nominee to the D.C. Circuit, Caitlin Halligan, was filibustered twice and blocked for over two years before she withdrew her nomination.


The Deeply Regrettable End to Senate Republicans' Filibuster of Caitlin Halligan

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: March 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

Last Friday, Caitlin Halligan, the highly qualified nominee to the D.C. Circuit who had been subjected to two filibusters, asked the President to withdraw her name. Despite her impeccable qualifications and the bipartisan support of her peers, the legal and law enforcement community, and numerous organizations across the country, and despite the fact that four out of the eleven seats on the D.C. Circuit are vacant, every Republican Senator except Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski refused to allow an up-or-down vote on her nomination. 


Second Chances

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: March 05, 2013 at 11:51 am

We don’t always get a second chance to make things right. But tomorrow, obstructionists in the U.S. Senate do. In December 2011, every Republican Senator, save one (Senator Lisa Murkowski) filibustered the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Tomorrow, the Senate will get a second chance to allow this outstanding nominee to receive an up-or-down vote.

The delays in her confirmation have only caused more problems for this court, and the public at large, during the thirteen months since the first vote to move to consider Caitlin Halligan’s nomination failed. Instead of three open seats on the D.C. Circuit, as there were in 2011, there are now four – making the D.C. Circuit the appellate court with the highest number of vacancies in the country. Now seven judges must do the work meant for a full eleven-judge court. With each vacancy, each judge’s caseload of complex, nationally important cases has grown.  What else has changed? Well, since President Obama won a second term, the virtual total shutdown of the confirmation process has ended. So now is clearly the time to move the Halligan nomination forward, to a consideration of her excellent record – and a confirmation vote.


Celebrate Women's History Month with More Diversity on The Federal Bench

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: March 04, 2013 at 11:40 am

March is Women's History Month, which affords us the opportunity to reflect on how far we've come in this country, and how far we have yet to go. And in many respects, recent events in the Congress illustrate both themes. For example, the last day of February, the Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, with even stronger protections for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT women. Yet it was a long and hard-fought battle, despite this law's proven effectiveness is combating domestic violence and the overwhelming bipartisan support the law has enjoyed over time.

Another example? Diversity on our federal courts. President Obama’s Administration has nominated more women and people of color for judgeships than any previous Administration in history. President Obama already has appointed more minority women judges than President Bush or President Clinton. As a result, the percentage of active women judges on the federal bench has increased from slightly above 25% to over 30% since 2009. For the first time in history, moreover, three women serve on the Supreme Court at one time. And of course, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court, became the first Hispanic to sit on the highest court in the land.


It’s Time to Confirm Caitlin Halligan

Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President | Posted on: February 14, 2013 at 03:05 pm

For the second time, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to approve President Obama’s nomination of Caitlin Halligan to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Ms. Halligan, a talented appellate lawyer, was first nominated in September 2010, and an outpouring of bipartisan support quickly followed from prominent lawyers, law-enforcement officials, women’s legal organizations, and others from around the country. Even so, a minority of Senators insisted on filibustering her nomination, and they have succeeded in blocking it so far.  In the meantime, the number of vacancies on this important court has grown, and now there are an alarming four vacancies on this 11-judge court. Now that the President has resubmitted her nomination, and the Committee has again approved it, it is high time that a confirmation vote is held before the full Senate.