These three trailblazers paved the way for women in judiciary

How women have changed the judiciary
How women have changed the judiciary 01:40

Barring an unforeseen delay, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is expected to be confirmed by the Senate before Election Day. She would become just the fifth woman to ever serve on the high court, compared to 109 men. But before any woman became a justice, others blazed a trail.

For most of these women, they were the first: Judge Anne Thompson became the first female and African American federal judge in New Jersey; Judge Susan Black, the first female federal court judge in Florida; and Judge Stephanie Seymour, the first in Oklahoma.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed these women and 20 others to the federal bench, making a statement about the future of the judiciary.

When asked what that statement was, Black said, "That women can do this job, and they did the job, and I think that made it possible for women to follow."

For Seymour, her path to court was blocked — literally — while she was pregnant practicing law.

"And the bailiff just threw his arms across the way after my male colleague went through, and he said only lawyers are allowed up here, and I stood up straight, stuck my belly out and said I'm one of those, and just pushed my way through," said Seymour.

Thompson had a message for those of tomorrow: "Think of what you want to do in this world, and go for it."

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News' chief legal correspondent and based in Washington, D.C.