• Oregon State Representative, 1965-1969.
  • Oregon State Senator, 1969-1977.
  • Oregon Court of Appeals, 1977-1982.
  • Oregon Supreme Court, 1982-1986.

About Justice Betty Roberts

After growing up in Kansas and Texas, Betty Roberts married a banker from Portland and moved with him to Oregon in 1945. She attended college at Eastern Oregon State college and Portland State College.

When her studies were over, she accepted a teaching job in east Portland. During this time, she became active in the local Democratic Party and her local school board. She also earned her master of science degree in 1961.

Roberts then turned her sights on the legislature. She began her first campaign for the Oregon House of Representatives in 1962, but lost the primary election. In 1964, while attending law school at Northwestern College of Law in Portland, she won a seat in the Oregon House. She passed the bar while in office. 

As a legislator, Betty Roberts was drawn to education, civil rights and women’s issues. She continued her advocacy in these fields in the Oregon Senate as well. She was in office during the historic 1973 legislative session, and worked to change Oregon laws that discriminated against women and minorities. Roberts was instrumental in gaining Oregon’s ratification of the 1973 Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. 

In 1977, Governor Bob Straub appointed Betty Roberts to the Oregon Court of Appeals. She served as the only woman on the ten-member court. In 1982, Governor Vic Atiyeh appointed her to the Oregon Supreme Court, which she served on until 1986. After her resignation from the Oregon Supreme Court, Roberts continued promoting women’s issues and other progressive causes. In 2004, she performed Oregon’s first legal same-sex marriage ceremony. 

– Interview recorded May 1, 2009