November 3, 1985
The President’s Distinguished Visitor for 1985, Harriet Pilpel '32, New York attorney and nationally recognized first amendment specialist delivered a series of talks on “The Real Meaning of the First Amendment,” “The Rights of the Press,” “Abortion and the Constitution,” “The Rights of the Artist” and “Pornography and the First Amendment.”
President Smith introduced Pilpel, speaking of her “great feeling for the individual’s right to plan one’s life with the maximum amount of freedom.” Pilpel addressed the audience on issues of censorship, “We have a guaranteed freedom of expression for the ideas we hate, and the more that we hate them, the more they need protection. …We are not a society which adheres to the will of the majority.” The Miscellany News
Pilpel was elected to Phi Beta Kappa during her junior year at Vassar, and she graduated second in her class of 269 from Columbia Law School, as one of a few women graduating. She contributed to many landmark cases during her distinguished career, including Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that led the Supreme Court to decide that the right to privacy under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.