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The same noble lord held that a married woman
might under certain circumstances, contract, and sue, and be sued
at law, as a single woman, upon the ground that, the reason of
the law ceasing, the law itself must cease; and that, as the
usages of society alter, the law must adapt itself to the various
situations of mankind. Mr. Justice Buller, in speaking of this
decision years afterward, declared that "the points there decided
were founded in good sense, and adapted to the transactions, the
understanding, and the welfare of mankind."

Apply this reasoning in our State, now that the Legislature has
removed every claim that the husband had, under the common law,
upon the property of the wife, except his life estate in her
hands, which only commences with her death, and all difficulty is
removed, and the case is clear.

MYRA BRADWELL.

Applicant, with a view of placing herself in a position to obtain
the benefit of the provisions of the Constitution of the United
States, and the Civil Rights Bill, applicable to her case, on the
second day of January, 1870, filed the following affidavit and
points:

_In the Supreme Court of Illinois, Third Grand
Division--September Term, 1869. [In the matter of the application
of Myra Bradwell to obtain a license to practice as an
Attorney-at-law]--State of Illinois, County of Cook, ss.:_ Myra
Bradwell, being duly sworn, doth depose and say that she was born
in Manchester, in the State of Vermont, and that she was a
citizen of said State last named, that she is now a citizen of
the United States; that she is and has been for many years last
past a resident of Chicago, in said State of Illinois, and
further deponent says not.

MYRA BRADWELL.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 31st day of December, A.D.
1869.

E. B. PAYNE, Notary Public. [Seal.]


And now again comes the said Myra Bradwell, and files the
following additional points:

VII. Your petitioner claims under the XIV. Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States, and the act commonly known as
the "Civil Rights Bill," the "full and equal benefit of all laws
and proceedings for the security of person and property," and the
right to exercise and follow the profession of an attorney-at-law
upon the same terms, conditions, and restrictions as are applied
to and imposed upon every other citizen of the State of Illinois,
and none other.

And that having complied with all the laws of the State, and the
rules and regulations of this honorable court, for the admission
of attorneys, it is contrary to the true intent and meaning of
said Amendment and said "Civil Rights Bill," for your petitioner
to be refused a license to practice law, upon the sole ground of
her "married condition."

VIII. And your petitioner further claims, that having been born
in the State of Vermont, and having been a citizen of the State
last named, and of the United States, and having removed to the
State of Illinois, where she has resided for many years, that
under the second section of the IV. Article of the Constitution
of the United States, which is in these words, "The citizens of
each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of
citizens in the several States," she has guaranteed to her the
privileges and immunities which every other citizen of the State
of Illinois has, among which may be named the protection of the
Government, the right to the enjoyment of life and liberty, to
acquire and possess property, to reside in the State, to carry on
trade, and the right to follow any professional pursuit under the
laws of the State, which must work equally upon all the citizens
of the State, and that under this section of the Constitution she
has a right to receive a license to practice law upon the same
terms and conditions as the most favored citizen of the State of
Illinois.

(People _vs._ Washington, 36 California R., 662. Corfield _vs._
Coryell, 4 Washington C. R., 381.)

MYRA BRADWELL.

On last week the court filed an opinion denying the application,
for a very carefully prepared copy of which we are indebted to
Mr. Freeman:


OPINION OF THE COURT DENYING THE APPLICATION.

[_In the matter of the application of Mrs. Myra Bradwell for a
license to practice as an Attorney-at-Law._] OPINION OF THE COURT
DELIVERED BY MR. JUSTICE LAWRENCE.--At the last term of the court
Mrs. Myra Bradwell applied for a license as an attorney-at-law,
presenting the ordinary certificates of character and
qualifications. The license was refused, and it was stated as a
sufficient reason, that under the decisions of this court the
applicant, as a married woman, would be bound neither by her
express contracts, nor by those implied contracts which it is the
policy of the law to create between attorney and client. Since
the announcement of our decision, the applicant has filed a
printed argument in which her right to a license is earnestly and
ably maintained. Of the ample qualifications of the applicant we
have no doubt, and we put our decision in writing in order that
she or other persons interested may bring the question before the
next Legislature.

The applicant, in her printed argument, combats the decision of
the court in the case of Carpenter _vs._ Mitchell, June term,
1869, in which we held a married woman was not bound by contracts
having no relation to her own property. We are not inclined to go
over again the grounds of that decision. It was the result of a
good deal of deliberation and discussion in our council chamber,
and the confidence of the present members of this court in its
correctness can not easily be shaken. We are in accord with all
the courts in this country which have had occasion to pass upon a
similar question, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Conway _vs._
Smith, 13 Wis., 125, differing from us only on the minor point as
to whether, in regard to contracts concerning the separate
property of married women, the law side of the court would take
jurisdiction.

As to the main question, the right of married women to make
contracts not affecting their separate property, the position of
those who assert such right is, that because the Legislature has
expressly removed the common law disabilities of married women in
regard to holding property not derived from their husbands, it
has therefore, by necessary implication, also removed all their
common law disabilities in regard to making contracts, and
invited them to enter, equally with men, upon those fields of
trade and speculation by which property is acquired through the
agency of contracts.

The hiatus between the premise and the conclusion is too wide for
us to bridge. It may be desirable that the Legislature should
relieve married women from all their common law disabilities. But
to say that it has done so in the Act of 1861, the language of
which is carefully guarded, and which makes no allusion to
contracts, and does not use that or any equivalent term, would be
simple misinterpretation. It would be going as far beyond the
meaning of that act as that act goes beyond the common law in
changing the legal status of women. The act itself is wise and
just, and therefore entitled to a liberal interpretation.

This we have endeavored to give it in the cases that have come
before us, but we do not intend to decide that the Legislature
has gone to a length in its measure of reform for which the
language it has carefully used furnishes no warrant.

It is urged, however, that the law of the last session of the
Legislature, which gives to married women the separate control of
their earnings, must be construed as giving to them the right to
contract in regard to their personal services. This act had no
application to the case of Carpenter _vs._ Mitchell, having been
passed after that suit was commenced, and we were unmindful of it
when considering this application at the last term. Neither do we
now propose to consider how far it extends the power of a married
woman to contract, since, after further consultation in regard to
this application, we find ourselves constrained to hold that the
sex of the applicant, independently of coverture; is, as our law
now stands, a sufficient reason for not granting this license.

Although an attorney-at-law is an agent, as claimed by the
applicant's argument, when he has been retained to act for
another, yet he is also much more than an agent. He is an officer
of the court, holding his commission in this State, from two of
the members of this court, and subject to be disbarred by this
court for what our statute calls "mal-conduct in his office." He
is appointed to assist in the administration of justice, is
required to take an oath of office, and is privileged from arrest
while attending courts.

Our statute provides that no person shall be permitted to
practice as an attorney or counselor-at-law, without having
previously obtained a license for that purpose from two of the
justices of the Supreme Court. By the second section of the act,
it is provided that no person shall be entitled to receive a
license until he shall have obtained a certificate, from the
court of some county, of his good moral character, and this is
the only express limitation upon the exercise of the power thus
intrusted to this court.



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