Judge Sarah Evans Barker

Sarah Evans Barker was appointed judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, in March 1984 and served as chief judge between 1994 and 2001. Prior to her appointment, Judge Barker was United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. From 1977 to 1981, she was both an associate and partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Bose, McKinney & Evans. She started her Indianapolis legal career as an assistant United States Attorney, after working as a legislative assistant to Senator Charles H. Percy and Congressman Gilbert Gude in Washington, D.C., and special counsel to the Senate Government Operations Subcommittee.

Active throughout her career in judicial and bar-related organizations, Judge Barker served as president of the 900-member Federal Judges Association, 2007-2009, and continues her work on the FJA Board of Directors. In 2004, she was appointed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to serve on the Special Study Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability (the “Breyer Committee”). Judge Barker has served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, its Executive Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, Standing Rules Committee, Budget Committee and the Judicial Branch Committee (ex-officio). She has also served on a variety of 7th Circuit committees and has been a member and officer of several bar associations.

Judge Barker is active in numerous civic, educational, cultural and religious organizations, including the Board of Directors of Clarian Health Partners, Inc., the Board of the Indiana Historical Society, and the Advisory Board for the Spirit and Place Civic Festival. She has previously served as a member of boards of trustees for several Indiana academic institutions, of the Connor Prairie Museum and advisory boards of Indiana University and its law schools, including participation on search committees for law school deans, an Indiana University chancellor and two presidents. She is a member of the Indiana Academy, a recipient of the Living Legends Award given by the Indiana Historical Society, the Trailblazer Award given by the Indiana Commission for Women, and a Distinguished Alumna of Indiana University. In addition, she has been awarded ten honorary degrees from Midwestern colleges and universities. Judge Barker is a member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis, the Lawyers Club, and the Gathering.

How as Title IX impacted your industry or career path?

As a federal judge, it might be more accurate if I were asked, and for me to respond about the ways my work has impacted Title IX. The obvious answer to that question is through my supervision and decisions relating to the (few) cases that have appeared on my docket over the years that were brought under that law. The impact of those decisions, however, I will leave for others to assess.

In terms of my personal life, Title IX made possible the kinds of broadbased involvements in women's sports that I could only dream of when I was in school. As a girl, I was quite adept at all sorts of team sports and loved to play them whenever we could pull together the makings of two teams, but there literally were no official outlets or avenues for me to develop my interest or my abilities. In college, athletic activities for women were limited to intramural competitions among the various housing units and sororities, and I am proud to report that the softball, basketball and volleyball teams I played on for Sycamore Hall at IU won many of those tournaments. When Title IX was enacted and the doors opened for girls and women to compete in officially sponsored and sanctioned athletic competitions, I was thrilled for all those who came along after me who were able finally to compete and be recognized for their prowess and achievements.

What would you like to say to Birch Bayh for authoring this legislation?

First, a heartfelt thank you. Beyond that, I think I can safely say that the Senator's sponsorship of this legislations provided further convincing evidence of the significant influence Marvella had on Birch's thinking throughout her life and thereafter. She raised people's consciousness regarding the role of women as well as a whole array of other issues wherever and whenever she became involved. She was a one-person demonstration of the value and benefits and real potential that would flow from a society that fully embraced gender equality. Birch had the good sense to listen to her and follow her lead!

What is your favorite quote?

From my mother, my first and best example of "women's lib," whose consistent response and admonition to her six children whenever one of us would begin to whine about some unfairnesses in the life or otherwise feel sorry for ourselves: "Adjust!" I have quoted her hundreds of times, finding that succinct, verbal directive a very effective form of "rebooting" for my own children and on occasion with a few litigants and/or their lawyers!