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Justice Alito, Late DU Alumna Honored at Duquesne

An April 4 program at Duquesne University did double duty, paying tribute to a sitting Supreme Court justice while honoring one of his former colleagues, who was remembered as a shining light from the bench of the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, a mentor to other women in a profession she helped to pioneer, a former Duquesne law school professor and a Duquesne alumna.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. visited Duquesne to accept the second Carol Los Mansmann Award for Distinguished Public Service. Alito had served for 12 years alongside Carol Los Mansmann on the Third Circuit and recalled her consummate poise, her intelligence, warmth, collegiality and extreme efficiency.

“She was the quintessential superwoman,” said Alito, pointing out that she accomplished the amazing feat of arguing three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court before the age of 30.

Mansmann, a 1967 graduate of Duquesne’s law school, was the first woman to be appointed to the bench in Pennsylvania, serving for three years on the U.S. District Court before her appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals. In addition, she served as an assistant district attorney and a special assistant to the Commonwealth attorney general, and engaged in private practice. Mansmann was 59 years old when she died in 2002 after battling breast cancer.

The Mansmann family and more than 800 people from the Duquesne and legal community, as well as the general public, attended the award presentation. The program included distinguished speakers such as Chief Justice Anthony Scirica of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry from the Third Circuit bench; Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C.; and Martha-Ann Alito, the justice’s wife. U.S. Supreme Court Chief John Roberts and Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, spoke via video presentations.

The afternoon included a moving video presentation that highlighted Mansmann’s spirit, and her personal and professional achievements. Another video recalled Alito’s career.

“It was just gracious from beginning to end,” said Duquesne Law Professor Ken Gormley, a former student of Mansmann’s who was instrumental in arranging the event. “The fact that it turned into a tribute for Justice Alito as well as for Carol Mansmann made it doubly special.”

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to host a Supreme Court Justice,” said Duquesne President Charles J. Dougherty. “This is the second Supreme Court Justice who has visited since I’ve been president; Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor received the first Mansmann award in 2001. I’m not sure too many universities in the country have hosted two sitting justices. It’s a special day for Duquesne, and for the School of Law in particular.”

The event was co-hosted by the Duquesne University School of Law, The Allegheny County Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.