Genevieve Blatt


From: Pennsylvania

Considered the first lady of PA politics, Judge Genevieve Blatt was the first woman elected to a statewide political office in Pennsylvania and became the first woman to sit as a Pennsylvania appellate judge on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court.
She also blazed a new trail for girls to compete in interscholastic athletics by her landmark ruling on Title IX. A native of East Brady, PA, she originally majored in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, then a bachelor's and master's degrees before graduating from its law school. In the public sector for over 50 years, she served as an assistant city solicitor in Pittsburgh in the 1940's.

Elected as Secretary of Internal Affairs in 1954 for three consecutive terms, Judge Blatt lost her bid for a fourth term in 1966. Judge Blatt ran on the Democratic ticket for Auditor General in 1950. She won a tight race in a party primary U.S. Senate seat in 1964, but then lost the election to the Republican incumbent, Senator Hugh Scott by 50,000 votes. From 1964 through 1968, she was appointed as a member of President Johnson's Consumer Advisory Council.

In 1972, Gov. Milton J. Shapp appointed her to fill an unexpired term on the Commonwealth Court, the state's appeals court. She won election on her own the next year, being re-elected in 1983. She retired from the bench in 1993. Her defining accomplishment while judge of the Commonwealth Court, Blatt ordered that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association provide women access to sports programs and could no longer discriminate on the basis of sex, aka Title IX.

One of her many accomplishments over the course of her career included an award as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1956.

An important aspect of her life included her work within the Catholic Church. She was instrumental in the canonization of two saints: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1975) and St. John Newman (1977). Additionally, she received three papal honors, including the Lady Grand Cross in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. In 1989 she was instrumental in bringing the time-honored tradition of the "Red Mass" to the Capitol Region.