Oral History of Dolores Korman Sloviter

Dolores Korman Sloviter is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Born to a Jewish-American family in 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she attended Philadelphia High School for Girls. She graduated from Temple University in 1953 with an A.B. and received her J.D. in 1956 from the University of Pennsylvania, where she served on the law review and was one of a group of eight women out of a graduating class of 132.

Sloviter was in private law practice with the firm Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish & Green, joining the litigation department, becoming the third lawyer on the three-lawyer team that tried the historic Electrical Cases in 1964. In 1972, she became a professor of law at Temple in 1972. President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Third Circuit in 1979 and subsequently served as Chief Judge from 1991 to 1998, the only woman to have served as Chief Judge of the Third Circuit. Although Sloviter has been eligible to take "senior status" for some time, she has opted not to do so, preferring instead to remain on "active" status, with a full caseload and full voting rights.

In 1996 Sloviter was a member of a three judge panel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania which heard a challenge to the Communications Decency Act, Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, on grounds that it abridged the free speech provisions of the First Amendment. On June 12, 1996, their decision blocked enforcement of the act, ruling that it was unconstitutional, in addition to being unworkable and impractical from a technical standpoint. The "Findings of Fact" document — written for the case by Judges Sloviter, Ronald L. Buckwalter, and Stewart R. Dalzell — was posted on the Internet and cited as a lucid introduction to the Internet and related software. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld their ruling on June 18, 1997.