Marilyn J. Morheuser (1924-1995)
Jersey gem: Practiced in Newark
Marilyn J. Morheuser, director and leading attorney of the Education Law Center in Newark, filed the landmark lawsuit Abbott v. Burke. The case challenged discrepancies between wealthy and poor districts in public education funding described under the Public School Education Act. In 1990, after a 13-year legal battle, the case was decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Court mandated that the state provide equal funding to both poor urban school districts and the state’s wealthiest school districts. This was the first time in national history that a court had ruled to equalize state funding.
Morheuser was also a former nun in the Sisters of Loretto who left the order in 1963. She earned a law degree from Rutgers Law School in 1970, and continued her commitment to children and civil rights as a lawyer.