Last July, attorney Marlene Trestman spoke with the Baltimore Jewish Times about her work on the first biography about Bessie Margolin, a prominent New Deal era and U.S. Supreme Court advocate whose impressive and prolific career included oversight of the court’s enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards and Equal Pay acts, which both celebrate milestone anniversaries (75 and 50 years, respectively) in 2013.
Trestman was inspired by Margolin’s professional accomplishments. But her devotion to Margolin went beyond the professional sphere. The two also shared a personal history. Although Margolin grew up about 50 years before Trestman, both were educated at the Isidore Newman School of New Orleans and both were wards of the Jewish Orphans’ Home, also in New Orleans. The women met and became friends when Trestman was a student at Goucher College.
In 2011, Trestman received a grant from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and a stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities that enabled her to take a leave from her position as a special assistant to the Maryland Attorney General to work on the biography.
In August 2012, Trestman got word that the prestigious Louisiana State University Press was awarding her an advance contract to publish her work.
Additionally, Trestman learned that her article, “Fair Labor: The Remarkable Life and Legal Career of Bessie Margolin (1909 to 1996)” — published in the Journal of Supreme Court History — had earned the Hughes-Gossett Prize for best journal article of 2012.
On June 3, 2013, in a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Justice Samuel Alito presented Trestman with an award of $1,500 and a piece of marble from the Supreme Court.
“Six of the justices were there. … I [met] Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” said Trestman. “She is my kind of star. [She] said, ‘we are all indebted to her [Bessie] as women and women lawyers.’”
Trestman was also invited to deliver the U.S. Department of Labor’s annual Donald S. Shire Lecture on June 28.
Learn more at marlenetrestman.com.