Recognizing Idaho's Women Leaders
College of Law Highlights Idaho Women who have Served in Public Office
The ABA 19th Amendment traveling exhibit is a compelling display that visited the UI campus in fall 2020. It encouraged the public to learn more about how women fought for the right to vote just 100 years ago, when men and women traveled to Nashville to convince the state legislature to be the final vote needed for ratification.
Women have been mostly left out of Idaho leadership and I felt it was important to bring awareness and lift up their voices to that they can be heard and seen serving in elected office.Jared Smith 2L
People were divided, wearing yellow roses in support and red roses against. It came down to one vote and the youngest member, Harry Burn, made history when he switched sides after receiving a note from his mother. The battle became known as the War of the Roses, Nashville was littered with rose petals, and Tennessee made history as the 36th vote in favor, granting American women the right to vote.
As we unpacked and set up the exhibit, we talked about how women in Idaho were granted the right to vote prior to the 19th Amendment. Miners liked alcohol and farmers supported prohibition, so the married men granted women voting rights to increase their odds of banning booze.
Looking over the images of suffragists in the display, one student on our team noticed an empty space where we could be celebrating Idaho’s elected women. He did some research and learned that only three women had been elected to serve in either the governor’s office or in the federal government on behalf of the state.
According to 2L Jared Smith, “Women have been mostly left out of Idaho leadership and I felt it was important to bring awareness and lift up their voices to that they can be heard and seen serving in elected office.”
He created posters of three of the highest ranked Idaho women to complement the ABA exhibit. The posters are on display on the main floor in the Moscow Library.
Hell’s Belle, Gracie Bowers Pfost, 1906 – 1965
Pfost was born in Arkansas and moved to the Boise area as a child. She attended Meridian High School and dropped out of school at the age of 16 to work at a dairy in Nampa. Pfost was the first woman to represent the state of Idaho in Congress and was a member of the Democratic party.
True Believer, Helen Palmer Chenoweth-Hage, 1938 – 2006
Chenoweth-Hage was born in Kansas and moved to southern Oregon with her family when she was 12 years old. She went to college in Spokane and managed the Northside Medical clinic while her first husband, Nick, attended the U of I College of Law. She was the second woman to represent Idaho in Congress and was a member of the Republican party.
Today’s Lieutenant Governor
Janice McGeachin was born in 1963 in Las Cruces, New Mexico and has lived in Idaho Falls for over 40 years. She was elected in 2019 to serve as Lt. Governor of Idaho.
Women of the Idaho Supreme Court
Three remarkable women have served on the Idaho Supreme Court. In recognition of Women’s History Month, we invite you to learn more about Linda Copple Trout, Cathy Silak, and Robyn Brody.
Linda Copple Trout
Linda Copple Trout was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1951 and adopted by Boise pediatrician Dr. B.I. Copple. She graduated from U of I in 1973 and from the College of Law in 1977. She practiced law in Lewiston and was appointed to be a county magistrate in 1983. Justice Trout was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1992 where she served until 2007. She is the only woman to serve as the state’s Chief Justice.
Cathy Silak, was born in 1950 and moved to Idaho, her husband’s home state, in 1983. She was the first woman to serve on Idaho’s second-highest court in 1990 and was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1993, where she served until 2000. Silak later became a partner with law firm Hawley Troxell, served as CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation and Dean of Concordia Law School.
Robyn Brody was born in Michigan in 1970 and has lived in Idaho since 1997. She was in private practice from 1997 to 2017, when she was elected to the Idaho Supreme Court and sworn into office by retired Chief Justice Linda Copple Trout. Justice Brody serves on the court today and teaches as an adjunct professor with the College of Law.