The Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman
Dubbed the “Lion Killer” for her improbable upset of a veteran Member, Elizabeth Holtzman earned a reputation as a determined legislator. A cofounder of the Congresswomen’s Caucus, Holtzman drew national attention for her service on the Judiciary Committee during President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment inquiry and questioning President Gerald R. Ford about his decision to pardon his predecessor.
U.S. Representative from New York (January 3, 1973–January 3, 1981)
Elizabeth (Liz) Holtzman pulled off a major upset when she defeated longtime Representative and Judiciary Committee Chairman, Emanuel Celler, to win a seat in the 93rd Congress (1973–1975). The youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the time (31)—a record that would stand for more than four decades—Holtzman’s grassroots campaign in her New York City district centered on her opposition to the Vietnam War. In her interview, Holtzman, a Harvard Law School graduate, speaks of how the civil rights movement influenced her decision to seek political office as an avenue to work for social justice. After her election, she recalls her efforts to differentiate herself from her predecessor. Despite her request for a different assignment, she received a spot on the Judiciary Committee. Ironically, the assignment put her at the center of one of the defining political moments of her generation since the panel oversaw the impeachment hearings for President Richard M. Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Holtzman shares her memories of the tumultuous period, including the work of the Judiciary Committee, her questioning of President Gerald R. Ford, and the importance of having women on the panel.
A consistent and vocal supporter of women’s rights, Holtzman cofounded the Congresswomen’s Caucus in 1977. Holtzman describes the early years of the caucus as well as the intricate whip operation she and her women colleagues successfully organized to pass an extension of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1977. Known as a passionate and hard-working legislator, Holtzman’s interview provides a first-hand account of the changing role of women in Congress during the 1970s.
Read full biography
Inspiration to Run for Congress
Gender as an Advantage
Learning about the Press
The Birth of the Women's Caucus
Working Together for the ERA
Congressional Delegation to Cambodia
Encouraging Women to Run for Congress
“What Does the Constitution Require?”
"I Really Felt As Though I Were in Quicksand"
"I Never Thought That Women Could Play This Kind of a Role"
Questioning President Ford
The System Worked
About this object