By Andrew Cohen
President Barack Obama has nominated University of Wisconsin Law School professor Victoria Nourse ’84 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. “Throughout her career Victoria Nourse has shown a commitment to justice,” Obama said in a White House statement. “I am proud to nominate her.”
The U.S. Senate must still confirm the nomination of Nourse, who has written extensively on criminal law, legislation, constitutional history, and the separation of powers.
From 1990–1993, Nourse was special counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and played a key role assisting then-Senator Joe Biden in drafting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), part of the Biden-Hatch Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. VAWA outlined grant programs to prevent violence against women, established a national domestic violence hotline, and created new protections for victims of domestic abuse—such as confidentiality of a new address and changes to immigration laws that allow a battered spouse to apply for permanent residency.
Previously, Nourse was an appellate attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1988–1990, and assistant counsel for the Senate Committee to Investigate the Iran-Contra Affair in 1987 and 1988.
Nourse, who graduated Order of the Coif at Berkeley Law, joined the University of Wisconsin law faculty in 1993. She has also been the Lamar Professor of Law at Emory University, and a visiting law professor at Yale, New York University, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown.
In 2008 Nourse wrote the book In Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of Eugenics, which examines the race betterment movement of the 1920s and 1930s—when state laws enabled the sterilization of thousands of Americans based on a belief that criminality and mental illness were inherited. In 2006 she co-authored Feminist Jurisprudence: Taking Women Seriously, a law school casebook now in its third edition.