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Virginia Linder is an Americanmarker judge from Oregonmarker who has served, since January 2007, as the 99th justice of the Oregon Supreme Courtmarker. She had previously served since 1997 on the Oregon Court of Appeals. In the 2006 elections, she was elected to the Supreme Court, defeating former Labor Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Roberts.

Early life

Virginia Linder was born in Coloradomarker, the daughter of two teachers. Linder earned her first degree in political science from Southern Oregon State Collegemarker in Ashland, Oregonmarker in 1975. She then spent two years working on the East Coast in order to save money for law school. She then returned to Oregon in 1977 and began studying law at Willamette University College of Lawmarker in Salemmarker. She graduated from Willamette in 1980 with a Juris Doctor. While in school she clerked at the Oregon Department of Justice during both her second and third years of law school.

Legal career

She began her career as an Assistant Attorney General in the Appellate Division of the Oregon Department of Justice, starting in 1980. Then in 1984 Linder was appointed as assistant solicitor general of Oregon. In 1986, at the age of 33, she was appointed Oregon Solicitor General, being the first woman to hold that position and serving in that office for longer than anyone else in state history. During her time as Solicitor General, she represented Oregon in front of the United States Supreme Courtmarker, winning Oregon v. ACF in 1994.

Judicial career

In 1997, she was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor John Kitzhaber, and was re-elected in 1998 and 2004. Her campaign for a seat on the Oregon Supreme Court began in 2005 when Chief Justice Wallace Carson, Jr. announced that he would retire from the court in 2006. She faced Roberts and Pendletonmarker attorney Gene Hallman in the May primary, winning 39% of the vote to Roberts' 42%. Because no candidate won a majority of the votes, Linder and Roberts advanced to the November runoff. In that runoff, Linder defeated Roberts by 52% to 48%. Linder's campaign committee raised just over $350,000 for her campaign but was outspent by more than two-to-one by the Roberts committee, which raised over $710,000.

Linder is the first woman elected to the Oregon Supreme Courtmarker. All previous female justices had been appointed to fill vacancies. She is also the first ever openly lesbian member of a state supreme court anywhere in the nation and the first openly LGBT person elected as a non-incumbent to a state supreme court. Her election campaign was supported by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and she lives with her partner Colleen Sealock. Since 1998 she has been a professor at Willamette’s law school.

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