The Honorable Constance A. Morella
“I feel women have a special responsibility. All Members of Congress have the responsibility to all their constituents. But if there are issues that particularly affect women and their role in society, ergo also families, I think there’s a responsibility. I’m going to care about my science and my constituencies that are involved in biomedical field, and whatever, and my federal employees, but if there are some issues that deal with family and medical leave, educational opportunities, particularly for women, then I feel I should speak out and I feel that I should try to garner support among the other women.”
—The Honorable Constance A. Morella, June 16, 2015
U.S. Representative from Maryland (January 3, 1987-January 3, 2003)
With her teaching background and a strong record of community activism, Constance A. (Connie) Morella made a smooth transition into the political realm. Morella served on the Montgomery County (Maryland) commission for women and in the Maryland general assembly before winning a seat in the House. As a Republican Congresswoman representing a swing district in close proximity to Washington, D.C., Morella sought to balance the demands of her constituents with the Republican Leadership—especially after her party gained control of the House in 1995.
In her oral history, Morella discusses the special bond that emerged among many of the women Members who served in Congress during her tenure. She explains the importance of the Congresswomen’s Caucus, which she co-chaired, in bringing attention to issues like women’s health and domestic abuse. Morella speaks of the role of gender in her campaigns and described how she believed in representing all women, not just those residing in her district. Known for her attentive constituent service, Morella’s committee assignments (Science, Government Reform, and Post Office and Civil Service), along with chairing two subcommittees, allowed her to advocate on a range of key issues for her district.
MORELLA, Constance A., a Representative from Maryland; born Constance Albanese in Somerville, Middlesex County, Mass., February 12, 1931; graduated from Somerville High School, Somerville, Mass., 1948; A.B., Boston University, Boston, Mass., 1954; M.A., American University, Washington, D.C., 1967; professor, Montgomery College, 1970–1986; member of the Montgomery County, Md., commission for women, 1971–1975; member of the Maryland state house of delegates, 1979–1986; unsuccessful candidate for nomination to the House of Representatives in 1980; elected as a Republican to the One Hundredth and to the seven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1987–January 3, 2003); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Eighth Congress in 2002; United States Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2003–2007; faculty member, American University, Washington, D. C.
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Equal Rights Amendment
The Honorable Constance A. Morella discusses her inspiration to run for Congress in 1974.
The Double Standard
The Honorable Constance A. Morella remembers being questioned for choosing to run for the state legislature while raising a family.
"That Gal's Got Spunk"
The Honorable Constance A. Morella remembers Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan.
The Honorable Constance A. Morella describes designing campaign materials.
The Honorable Constance A. Morella describes the personal element of her campaign buttons.
"I Wasn't Supposed to Win"
The Honorable Constance A. Morella reflects on her personable campaigning efforts in 1986.
Excluded from Appropriations
The Honorable Constance A. Morella reflects on the inner politics of committee assignments.
"Out of the Box"
The Honorable Constance A. Morella remembers working across party lines to find support for legislation.
"Work a Little Harder"
The Honorable Constance A. Morella discusses how women Members gain respect in the House.
The Honorable Constance A. Morella shares memories of the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Room, a retiring space for women Members.
Moving in the Right Direction
The Honorable Constance A. Morella predicts the number of women serving in Congress 150 years after Jeannette Rankin was elected.
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