Valorie Vojdik, professor of law, recently spoke to WCIV-TV in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, on the twentieth anniversary of Faulkner v. Jones, a landmark case that opened the doors of The Citadel to women for the first time.
Vojdik served as the lead lawyer for Shannon Faulkner, who was conditionally admitted to the state-supported Citadel in 1993. When the school discovered her gender, however, it withdrew its acceptance in accordance with its then 150-year-old policy of admitting only males. Faulkner filed suit against James E. Jones Jr., then chairman of the Board of Visitors of The Citadel, contending that the school’s withdrawal of her admission was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
The legal battle went on for nearly three years, until the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that as a public institution, The Citadel could not discriminate on the basis of sex. Though the school tried to bring the case all the way to the Supreme Court, then Chief Justice William Rehnquist denied an emergency request to bar Faulkner’s entry.
“It was the most difficult lawsuit I’ve ever been involved with,” said Vojdik in an interview with the station. “The Citadel and its supporters fought long and hard to keep women out.”
She says the school is stronger for its admission of women.
“I think The Citadel is a better institution because it allows both men and women to attend.”