“Back in 1971, the Grant Grill, the downtown elite’s favorite watering hole, banned women at lunchtime. “It was really quite simple,” Schenk says. “We didn’t know that we were doing anything historic. I was a young lawyer in the attorney general’s office, and my friend (now judge) Judy McConnell was a young lawyer in the Department of Transportation. Downtown San Diego was a very different place than it is today. …. And the third was the Grant Grill in the [U.S.] Grant Hotel, and that’s where all the power brokers met for lunch. The mayor, city council members, heads of banks, that’s where business got done. This was not a private club, and it wasn’t a hotel, but it said, ‘Men Only, from Noon to Three.’ Well, this didn’t sit too well with us. We decided we were going to try and change that. There was at that time a case in New York City, an old, old bar, going back to the 1800s, and it was a men-only bar. Some women in New York brought a lawsuit saying, ‘This bar has a liquor license, and it’s not a private club, and they should have to allow women in.’ Well, the [federal] District Court in New York said, ‘These women are right. You have to allow women in because you have a state liquor license.’ Of course, that decision had absolutely no bearing and no precedent value outside that district. But I heard about it. This was before email, the internet. This was before fax. So, I had a friend in New York mail me a copy of the case. I had it in my hand, and we asked a male friend of ours to make a reservation and went over [to the Grant Grill], and we went in, the three of us.
“And the maître d’…I’ll never forget his face. He turned pale. He said, ‘Oh, my. Well, I’m so sorry, but there’s been a misunderstanding and it’s gentlemen only from noon to three.’ And we said, ‘No, we have a reservation.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. I can’t seat you. Let me escort you across the hall to the Garden Room, where you’ll be much happier.’
“We said, ‘No, no. We want to be in the Grant Grill.’
“And he said, ‘But your ears will be offended by the language of the men.’ We allowed as how that would not bother us at all, by letting him know we knew how to use those words too. Finally, I said, ‘I have here a court case that says you must allow us in.’ He was a short fellow, and I’m fairly tall, and he broke into a bit of a sweat — and took us in. He seated us because there was a table reserved.
“Well. The men, I will say, were not gentlemen. We were booed. We were made to feel like we were from another planet. Not just the opposite sex. Loud, rude remarks, people coming over and jostling our chairs, saying nasty things. Why were we trying to do this? What was wrong with us? Calling us all sorts of names.
“They were not very welcoming for years after that, but women did come. And we were dead serious. This was not a publicity stunt. I mean, that [New York] case had no value in California, no impact. It was poker, and he blinked.”
When I was young and starting out in practice of law, we women couldn’t get credit in our own name. We couldn’t get a bank loan… “So a group of us got together and said, ‘Why don’t we form our own bank, where women will be welcome, where women will be treated as a good business risk?’ And we did that. Of course, the reaction from men was predictable: we faced everything from ridicule to dismissiveness. … “That was thanks to the few women who came before us and forced the DA and the county counsel and the city attorney to hire women. But we still couldn’t get hired at public law firms. So a group of us decided, ‘Well, there’s power in numbers.’ And we formed an organization called the ‘Lawyers Club,’ which today is 1000 strong…. Then women started to run for office, and Maureen O’Connor was the first woman to be elected mayor, and I was the first woman elected to the United States Congress from south of Los Angeles.”
COMMENT TO THE READER ARTICLE BY SHARON KRAMER
Very interesting article. There is another saying, “Absolute power corrupts.” I am sorry to report to you that your friend and pioneer in the advancement of women’s rights of equal employment, Judy McConnell, has become corrupted and is now part of the Good Ole Boy network she set out to change.
She has the blood of many innocent children on her hands by becoming a puppet for the US Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry. Judy forgot the laws along the way that perjury in strategic litigation to silence mothers of sick children is still criminal, even if one has written policy for the US Chamber.
Judy forgot that you can’t deem a California citizen to be a “malicious liar”, while not being able to cite to one shred of evidence of them being impeached as to the subjective belief in the validity of their words.
Check out the Appellate Court records in the case of D054496 and cross reference against what Judy and her fellow judiciaries have written as Opinion,to see just how misbehaved your friend Judy, Chair of the California Commission on Judicial Performance, has become. It is truly history making of establishing stealth case law that when the financial interests of the affiliates of the US Chamber of Commerce are at stake, this takes precedence over law and the health and safety of the American public.