The Biggest Political Milestones For U.S. Women In 2022
Between the midterms, a high-profile Supreme Court session and a still ongoing pandemic, 2022 has been a year full of headlines—one that’s ushered in many highs and lows for women in America. Here are some of the biggest history-making moments that hit home for women in 2022.
Ending nearly a half century of precedent, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, overturning the constitutional right to an abortion in June. The 5-4 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision delegates the legality of abortion to the states. The ruling held the line drawn in the leaked opinion draft from May.
Protests were held across the country in the immediate aftermath—some of which resulted in the arrest of major U.S. lawmakers. State-led abortion legislation advanced on both sides of the aisle, and corporate America began to take stronger stands on the issue, with many introducing abortion-related employee benefits.
Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in July, making her the first Black woman and first former federal public defender to serve on the high court. The 116th justice was previously a circuit judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Jackson succeeded liberal Justice Stephen Breyer following his retirement in June.
Women appeared on U.S. quarters for the first time.
The U.S. Mint began shipping the first of the coins from the American Women Quarters Program in January. Intended to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions made by women of the U.S., the first released quarters featured celebrated writer and social activist Maya Angelou. Quarters featuring Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong were also introduced in 2022.
Liz Cheney emerged as a key figure in the January 6th hearings.
The House January 6th Committee began a series of prime-time televised hearings, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming took center stage as Vice Chair. Cheney was one of only two Republicans on the panel and gained praise from Democrats for her consistent criticism of the Trump administration’s actions during the insurrection and attack on the Capitol.
The appearance likely have cost Cheney her seat in Congress as she later lost to Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman in the November midterms. She has since hinted at a potential 2024 Presidential run.
A record number of bills seeking to curtail LGBTQ+ rights were advanced.
A wave of legislation related to LGBTQ+ rights swept across dozens of states in the U.S. in 2022. Championed by conservative lawmakers, the hundreds of bills included restrictions on the discussions of sexuality and gender in classrooms, gender updates on identification documents, the participation of transgender youth in sports and access to gender-affirming care for transgender youths.
Abortion appeared on the ballot.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, voters in five U.S. states—California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont—decided on abortion-related ballot measures during the midterms. All five resulted in resounding wins for abortion rights supporters. Already, several states are looking ahead to 2024 ballot measures on abortion.
New records for women in the U.S. Congress and House were set.
The midterms made way for 149 women to serve in the 118th Congress, two more than the current record of women serving. With the increased representation, women will hold 27.9% of seats. The House will gain one more woman, bringing the number of women up to 124, comprising 28.5% of House seats. A new record will not be set in the Senate.
Latina and Black women secured a record number of seats in the U.S. Congress and House.
The new Congress will have 19 Latina women, up from the previous record of 15. Eighteen of the women will serve in the House, and one in the Senate. Twenty-seven Black women are set to serve in the 118th Congress, one more than the previous record first set in 2021. All of the women will serve in the House. Still, no Black women will serve in the Senate.
A new record for women in state legislatures was reached.
At least 2,376 women will serve in state legislatures in 2023, surpassing the previous record of 2,307.
A record number of women won bids for governor’s seats.
With a special focus on state powers in 2022, gubernatorial races were uniquely front and center during the midterms. Since 1925, just 45 women have served as governor of a state, with nine as the highest number of women serving at one time. An influx of women running for governor in the midterms had election watchers waiting to see if women would reach a new record. In the end, the midterms made way for 12 women to serve as governors in 2023. A few will make history as the first women to serve in their states.