Speaker Event | Joint Program by NDHS and NJCHS


In a manner unthinkable today, Justice William O. Douglas was a public advocate for the environment. Join us as Ninth Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown explores the politics and ethics of advocacy by a Supreme Court Justice. Judge McKeown’s book on Justice Douglas’s environmental legacy will be published in 2021.

Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of Justice William O. Douglas

Program Partner

The Northern District Historical Society (NDHS) has been protecting and enlivening the rich judicial history of the court since 1977. The goal of the Society is to preserve, share, and enliven the court’s history with lawyers, educators, scholars, and students. To learn more visit their website here.

Date and Time (Virtual Event)

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.


  • Admission is free of charge; advance registration required (see below).

Joint Membership Special

  • The NJCHS and the NDHS invite you to join their Societies and are offering a JOINT MEMBERSHIP SPECIAL — act now and join BOTH the NJCHS and the NDHS for $100 (normally $110!). Join now by selecting below and you will be enrolled in both Societies! Visit our membership page to learn more about member benefits.

Joint Membership Special

About Honorable M. Margaret McKeown

Judge McKeown was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1998. Judge McKeown was a White House Fellow in 1980-1981, serving as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior and Special Assistant at the White House. She was the first woman partner at Perkins Coie. Additionally, Judge McKeown has lectured and taught extensively on constitutional law, international law, human rights law, intellectual property, litigation, ethics, and judicial administration. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including most recently the ABA Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award. She also has written extensively about Justice Douglas and has published articles about him in the Journal of Supreme Court History and in the Seattle Times.

About Justice William O. Douglas

“For myself it is a testing ground of my strength and endurance, a pitting of finite man against one of the great rigors of the universe. A man – or girl – can get to know himself – or herself- on the mountain.”

– November 6, 1954 letter to a Seattle schoolgirl, The Douglas Letters (1987)

In 1954, Justice Douglas hiked the entire 184 miles of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath.

Justice William O. Douglas was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Douglas attended Whitman College on a scholarship. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1925 and joined the Yale Law School faculty. In 1934, Douglas left Yale to join the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a political appointee position, having been nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. By 1937, he had become an adviser and friend to the President and the SEC chairman. He was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 20, 1939, at just 40 years old, he was one of the youngest justices appointed to the court. He is also the longest service justice in the history of the Supreme Court serving a term lasting almost 37 years.

In an interview with Felicity Barringer for the Stanford University website Judge Mckeown describes how Justice Douglas came to be an ardent environmentalist:

The awakening of his public advocacy came in 1954 when he learned that there was a plan to build a parkway to the C&O Canal, near Washington, D.C. He read an editorial in the Washington Post supporting the proposal and wrote a counter piece challenging the editors to hike with him to see for themselves why a parkway would be a travesty. They accepted the challenge. Douglas, along with nine companions, hiked the entire 184 miles of the towpath along the canal. Among those who finished with him was Olaus Murie, Director of The Wilderness Society and a noted wildlife biologist. They became close friends and collaborators. Though the Post editors weren’t among those who went the entire distance, the hike and Douglas’ advocacy changed their mind. The parkway was never built. A statue commemorating Douglas’ role and inspiration can be found at the beginning of the C&O towpath.

Register Below

Citizen Justice Program Registration

  • IMPORTANT | Please fill in the email you will use for the Zoom link

“Last weekend, the Nakamura Federal Courthouse was broken into, a smoke bomb and an American flag were burned, and the building was tagged with graffiti inside and out…” 

– November 6, 1954 letter to a Seattle schoolgirl, The Douglas Letters (1987)

Seattle, where that theoretical gravitational pull rings true. Here, we reflect on the building, but equally the man whose name adorns 1051 Sixth Avenue in downtown.

July 4, 2020 marked the 76th anniversary of the battlefield death of Pfc. William Kenzo Nakamura of Seattle, the namesake for the city’s courthouse for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fifteen days later, on a warm summer evening on July 19, 2020, peaceful protestors once again marched past the Art Deco inspired building in downtown Seattle – but on that night, some people broke away from the nonviolent demonstrators and damaged the courthouse, the damage coming near, but not destroying, the artifacts of the courthouse’s namesake.

Nakamura was the first U.S. courthouse – built in 1939 to 1940 – created for the unique purpose as a stand-alone federal courthouse. Up to that point, most federal courthouses sprung from multipurpose buildings, such as the James R. Browning U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco designed in the 1890s to house the federal courts and the San Francisco post office. But not Nakamura. Like its namesake, it is one of a kind. But the name would not be associated with the building for another 60 years after its initial opening to the public.

Nakamura, born in Seattle in 1922, graduated from Garfield High School, and attended the University of Washington at the time the U.S. entered World War II. It was December 1941. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In February 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed an Executive Order placing all people of Japanese ancestry into relocation centers. After Pearl Harbor, wartime mania reached its zenith and anyone of Japanese descent was considered a likely spy, even American citizens like Nakamura. The government swept up Nakamura and his family along with more than 110,000 other Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the Pacific Coast, into internment camps. Nakamura was placed at the Minidoka Japanese internment camp in Idaho, also known as Camp Hunt, the largest internment camp with over 9,000 refugees. More than 1,000 of the camp’s incarcerated men enlisted as soldiers to fight for America in World War II.ii

“Many of them volunteered to fight when they were behind the barbed wire enclosures of relocation centers . . . . They volunteered to fight for the land of their birth, the adopted land of their parents.”

– “Go For Broke” United States War Department Filmiii

From behind the barbed-wire enclosure, Nakamura volunteered, and the government deployed him to Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated U.S. Army unit during World War II made up of Japanese-Americans. There, on Italian soil, a German sniper cut short his life at the tender age of 22. In giving his life, Nakamura singlehandedly protected his platoon by his own initiative. For his valor, Nakamura was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000.v

That November, Congress voted unanimously to pass legislation and officially name the courthouse in Seattle for Nakamura. President Clinton signed it into law and by 2001 the Seattle-born Nakamura and medal honor recipient officially gained a permanent place in his native city.

To learn more about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, see our Executive Order 9066 Exhibit







Marta Rosa Rupp leads the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance | Images Courtesy of Idaho Press

Fifty-seven folks were able to be safely sworn in as new US Citizens thanks to the creative thinking and planning of the Idaho District Court.  Citizens from more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, China, Mexico and Peru, who otherwise would have had to wait months to become citizens because of the coronavirus pandemic, were sworn in at two outdoor ceremonies in July, with all participants wearing masks.

On July 23, 2020 U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale administered the oath of citizenship to 37 people on a patio outside the James D. McClure U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Boise. Twenty more new citizens had taken the oath outdoors the prior week.

Steven Kenyon, the clerk of Idaho’s U.S. District and Bankruptcy courts, got the idea for the outdoor citizenship ceremony after he saw a photo of an outside municipal court proceeding in San Francisco during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. As it turns out, Idaho had held an outdoor citizenship ceremony once before at Boise State University’s football stadium in 1990 for more than 100 people, during the Idaho state centennial.

US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale presides over the Naturalization Ceremony | Images Courtesy of Idaho Press

Judge Dale, who presided over the outdoor ceremonies called them “a beautiful alternative,” and said of Naturalization ceremonies generally, “It’s right up there at the top of the list of the things you can do as a federal judge.”

Among the new citizens was 29-year-old Marta Rupp of the Dominican Republic, who led her fellow newly-minted citizens in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Said Rupp, “I’m grateful for this country and for all the things it has given me, so I think it was pretty cool to volunteer — an honor.”

Rupp’s whole family gathered on the courthouse patio Thursday to celebrate, with her young daughters taking turns holding a small American flag. Other new citizens also came to celebrate with a few of their friends or family members. Kudos to all at the Idaho District Court who made these new citizen’s dream a reality and congratulations to all of the new citizens!

Judge Farris | July 13, 1969

On July 23, 2020 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lost a distinguished jurist and a revered colleague, Senior Circuit Judge Jerome Farris.  Farris was 90.  Judge Farris’ fellow judges described him as “an extraordinary judge and human being . . . a force of nature”; and “a compassionate human being . . .  a hundred years ahead of his time.” Of the loss, Circuit Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson said, “This is indeed a sad day for the court. As the first African-American judge to serve on this court, he left a legacy in which we can all take pride,” “His passing leaves a gigantic hole in the fabric of our court family,” she added.

Farris was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree with department honors in mathematics at Morehouse College in 1951. After graduation, he served in the Army Signal Corps and went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1955. Farris worked as a juvenile probation officer while earning his law degree. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1958 from the University of Washington School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review, a member of the Order of the Coif, and was elected president of the student body.

Upon graduation, he worked for the law firm of Weyer, Roderick, Schroeter, and Sterne before starting his own firm.  In 1969 Farris was appointed by Governor Dan Evans to the inaugural Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I, and was elected unanimously by his colleagues as the first presiding Chief Judge. He served on the court for ten years, until he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Farris maintained chambers in Seattle, Washington, and assumed senior status on March 4, 1995. As his successor, Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown observed, “Jerry was an icon in the Pacific Northwest legal community.”

Judge Farris was actively involved in numerous civic organizations throughout his life.  He served as a Regent of the University of Washington. He was a trustee of the Seattle-King County Bar Association and former chairman of the Washington Council of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. He was a member of the University of Washington Law School Foundation, the Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Science, the Seattle Youth Commission, the King County Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, and a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth. He served on the boards of Seattle Urban League, Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center, and United Way. Morehouse College awarded him an honorary degree in 1978.

Judge Farris served on the Executive Committee and Judicial Wellness Committee for the Ninth Circuit. He completed two terms of service on the United States Supreme Court Judicial Fellows Commission and one on the United States Judicial Conference Committee on International Judicial Relations. He is a past Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Senior Lawyers Division Council of the American Bar Association, a former secretary of the Executive Committee of the ABF Board of Directors and a former chairman of the Appellate Judges’ Conference of the ABA.

Judge Farris is survived by two daughters, Juli and Janelle, and a sister, Marian Farris Hatch. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Shy Farris.

 With gratitude to Claude Stern Esq, and to Judge Farris’ daughters Juli and Janelle, we are pleased to be able to share with you this recent oral history interview of Judge Farris.   

Judge Farris Oral History

Throughout July 2020, it was widely reported that the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, in downtown Portland, suffered vandalism during the protests staged in the heart of the city, and was the site of contentious interactions between protesters and federal agents. Perhaps unknown to many, however, is that throughout his long political career, the namesake of the Courthouse, Mark Odom Hatfield, was a vocal advocate for the Civil Rights Movement, and was a staunch supporter of some of same major anti-discrimination reform issues currently driving the largely peaceful protests for social and racial justice

Just three years later, he introduced and passed legislation prohibiting race discrimination in public accommodations. For the time, legislation of its kind was revolutionary, proceeded by similar policy at a national level in Congress and court decisions. Although not endorsed by his own party, Hatfield moved on from the Oregon legislature to win election as Governor in 1958, and he won re-election in 1962. At the time, Hatfield was only the second governor in state history to serve two full consecutive terms.

After his second term as Governor, Hatfield ran for United States Senate. During his 30-year term as a Senator, Hatfield continued his legacy of voting in alignment with his values even where they might differ from standard party politics. Hatfield continued to strongly support the Civil Rights movement, voting in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Civil Rights Act of 1987, and in favor of establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday.

Throughout his career, Hatfield was known for voting and working for what he believed was right. The Mark O. Hatfield District Courthouse is aptly named for this proudly independent son of the State of Oregon.

For more background/perspective see these wonderful linked articles below.

The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society and the Northern District Historical Society honored the memory of Bill Edlund, by presenting this year’s Bill Edlund Award for Professionalism in the Law to Jerry Braun on February 6, 2020.

The award was jointly created by the NJCHS and the Northern District Court Historical Society to honor our beloved Board member, William I. Edlund.

The Edlund Award recognizes:

  • Excellence as a Lawyer in Written and Oral Advocacy;
  • Civility;
  • Commitment to the Legal Profession; and
  • Leadership in the Community

Jerry Braun is one of the founding partners of Farella Braun + Martel LLP, where he has worked since its founding in 1962. In addition to his long and distinguished legal career spanning nearly six decades, Jerry has been a tireless supporter of the legal profession, including his work on behalf of The Other Bar, a network of recovering lawyers, law students and judges throughout California.

We celebrated both Bill Edlund and Jerry Braun with a short program, and a reception in the great hall of the James R. Browning Courthouse.

It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Board member, Gersham Goldstein. Gersham had been a member of the NJCHS Board for almost thirty years, serving for many, many years as the Treasurer of the Society, then as the Chair of the Board in 2004. Even after his term as Chair concluded, Gersham continued to the end to be closely involved with directing the Society, serving as chair of the Finance Committee and on the Executive Committee. We will greatly miss his intellect, his deep commitment to the Society, his generosity of spirit, and his wit and humor.

Gersham was a prominent Portland tax lawyer and renowned tax law expert. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the City College of New York, and then a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Gersham then worked as a research assistant for Gerald L. Wallace at NYU, whom he credited as having been a significant influence in his career.

Gersham came to Oregon in 1963 to work for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Alfred T. Goodwin (later appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and also an NJCHS Board member). Over his early career he worked for Oregon Governor Mark Hatfield and New York Congressman Jacob Javits. Gersham also taught at NYU and at the University of Cincinnati. Gersham and his wife, Pauline, returned to Portland in 1975, where Gersham took a position at the Davies Biggs law firm, which later became a part of the Stoel Rives firm, from which he retired as a partner.

Gersham was a generous philanthropist, dedicating his prodigious talents and resources to a variety of causes. He demonstrated his love of the law and history through his decade’s long Board roles on both the NJCHS and the Pioneer Courthouse Historical Society. He was also deeply connected to the Jewish community in Portland. He served as president of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland from 2009 to 2011. He also served on the boards of the Robison Jewish Home, Congregation Neveh Shalom and Greater Portland Hillel.

He is survived by his wife, Pauline, and daughter, Deborah, and her husband Magid, daughter-in-law Jennifer, and his four grandchildren, Noah, Krystal, Logan and Jakob. He was preceded in death by his son Marcus in 2015.

We will greatly miss our talented raconteur, trusted advisor, mentor, and dear friend.

Memorial Donations

The following special memorial donations were made to honor Gersham’s legacy and his decades long commitment to the Society and especially his many years of service as its Treasurer and stewardship of the financial health of the Society.

Founder Level ($3,000 and Above)

Donald Gaffney

Patron Level ($1,000 and Above)

Jerry Braun

Grantor Level ($250 and Above)

Robert D. Lowry

To make a special memorial donation in honor of Gersham Goldstein select below

We held our first ever Virtual Trivia Night – with 130 friends from all around the Circuit who thanked us “for a truly unique and wonderful experience.” We so enjoyed the magic of Andrew Evans from the Magic Patio (see below) after we kicked the evening off seeing each team’s submissions of their home quarantine versions of Browning Courthouse architectural details.

Enjoy the amazing results!

MET Challenge

Andrew Evans – The Magic Patio

In the history of women’s rights, the Equality State has many firsts to its name. In 1869, Wyoming became the first U.S. territory to grant women the right to vote. In 1870, it was home to the first female judicial officer, first female bailiff, and first female jurors. In 1890, upon being admitted as the forty-fourth state in the Union, Wyoming became the first state with women’s suffrage. When Wyoming elected Nellie Tayloe Ross as its governor in 1924, it was the first time a woman held that office in our nation’s history. Yet, in 1869, when the first of these glass ceilings was shattered, Wyoming was a land of boomtowns, miners, saloons, and brothels, where almost 80 percent of the population was male. This begs the questions of how and why this frontier bastion of masculinity became an early pioneer in advancing the cause of women’s rights.

Learn more from our Exhibit and our journal, Western Legal History!

See all Exhibits Western Legal History