By Stephen J. Pollak

The Historical Society family mourns the passing of our leader, mentor and friend, Judge Patricia M. Wald, on January 12, 2019, whose ties to the Society were broad, deep and enduring. She was Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1990 when the Society was organized by now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Judge Wald joined the Society’s Board of Directors in 2005 and served the six years permitted by the Bylaws.

Judge Wald joined the Society’s Board of Directors in 2005 and served the six years permitted by the Bylaws. For lengthy periods, she chaired the Society’s Program Committee and Nominations Committee. After leaving the Board, she continued to be an active member of the Program Committee.

Judge Patricia Wald

When Judge Wald did something, she did it all the way. That was true of her activities with the Historical Society. As part of the Society’s Oral History Project, she gave her history in seven interviews, commencing in 1992 and concluding in 2003. Judge Wald brought her ideas, her knowledge of the law and her enormous acquaintanceship across the bar, academia and public service to the creation and production of every program presented by the Society from 2005 when she joined the Board to the time of her death. Whenever the Society asked, she played a substantive role in those programs, serving as:

Introducer and stage-setter for
“Review of Agency Rules in the DC Circuit: Back to the Future?” (2010)
“The DC Circuit in the McCarthy Era: United States v. Lattimore (2011)

Moderator of panel discussions in
“Arguing Before the DC Circuit: Current and Historical Perspectives” (2005)
“FOIA, National Security and the D.C. Courts” (2009)
“Separation of Powers and the Independent Counsel: Morrison v. Olson (2015)

Panel participant in
“FCC Indecency Cases in the DC Circuit: An Historical Perspective” (2008)
“Women in the Life and Law of the DC Circuit Courts” (2013)

In recognition of Judge Wald’s significant contributions, the annual series of programs on matters of historic interest shall henceforth be known as the “Judge Patricia M. Wald Programs on Life and Law in the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit.” The Society’s decision to commemorate Judge Wald was communicated to her in October 2018.