Laying Down the Law


Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick '72 knows what it means to break barriers.

By the time she graduated, she had fought the University to achieve access for women to everything from football game passes to Fulbright scholarships.

"Men were automatically given passes and women had to be asked, so a group of us approached the University asking for equal access," Gorelick says. The University balked at the prospect, she adds, telling Gorelick and others in the end to "just get a date."

The fixed ratio of 300 women admits to the College limited Gorelick's base of support, but not her fighting spirit.

"I spent a lot of my time arguing with the University over gender issues," Gorelick says, recalling how she applied for a Fulbright scholarship more to prove a point than to get the opportunity to study abroad.

"Back then, all the scholarships were limited to men," she says. "I applied for the Fulbright because that made me mad, but when I realized afterward that was my motivation, I declined."

As deputy attorney general in the Justice Department since 1992, Gorelick took her litigious nature to court while assisting in the prosecution of such high-profile cases as the trial of Unabomber suspect Theodore J. Kaczynski '62, the inquiry into the Atlanta Olympic bombing and the Whitewater investigation.

Before joining the Clinton transition team and being appointed to the Department of Justice in 1992, Gorelick served as chief counsel for the Department of Defense, supervising nearly 7,000 lawyers with an immediate staff of about 60 civilian and military counsel.

Prior to that post, Gorelick worked for 16 years at Miller, Cassidy, Larrocca and Lewin, with a few pauses to work with the Carter administration's Energy Commission, the 1988 presidential campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and several legislative hearings.

At the same time, Gorelick managed to maintain a reputation in Washington as a Democrat without political commitments.

"She was not that active in political campaigns and that turned out to be an asset later on in her career because she was seen as achieving her position by merit and not political patronage," says Dr. Richard Waldhorn, Gorelick's husband of 22 years and chief of the division of pulmonary and critical-care medicine at Georgetown Hospital.

Gorelick and Waldhorn met in the seventh grade and were high-school sweethearts, but coordinating medical school and law school proved challenging even for the seasoned couple from Great Neck, N.Y. Finally settling in Bethesda, Md. to raise a daughter, Dana, 4, and a son, Daniel, 9, Waldhorn says life has settled into a steadier rhythm.

"Having young kids [when you work often] is in some ways easy, because they're so absorbed with just being kids, while older children might have more issues that need to be discussed and dealt with," Waldhorn says.

While shifting into a high-gear career and moving to the Washington area in 1976 meant a more stressful way of life, it also signaled the start of Gorelick's turn in the public spotlight. By the time she was appointed counsel at the Defense Department, Gorelick became aware that she had once again picked a hard fight.

Although Gorelick faced tough battles in high-profile cases at the Pentagon, such as the dispute over gays in the military, she says her greatest challenge stemmed from government programs which had begun before she even assumed the post.