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Marilyn Morheuser

Image of Marilyn Morheuser

Image courtesy of the Education Law Center, Newark, NJ

Marilyn J. Morheuser (1924-1995), was the director and leading attorney of the Education Law Center in Newark.

Morheuser filed the landmark lawsuit Abbott v. Burke that challenged discrepancies between wealthy and poor districts in public education funding described under the Public School Education Act.

In 1990, the New Jersey Supreme Court mandated that the state provide funding for poor urban school districts equal to the funding provided to the wealthiest districts. This was the first time in national history that a court had ruled to equalize state funding.

Morheuser was also a former nun in the Sisters of Loretto and left the order in 1963. She earned a law degree from Rutgers Law School in 1970 and continued her life of commitment to children and civil rights as a lawyer.



Congress of the U.S., Washington, Dc. House Committee on Educationand Labor. 1990. Hearing on H.R. 3850, the Fair Chance Act. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education of the Committee on Education and Labor. House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, Second Session. Superintendent of Documents. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/967220781 

Milwaukee United School Integration Committee. 1964. Milwaukee United School Integration Committee records. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/145771199 

Ewing, John, and Marie Muhler. 1977. Minority report relative to the report of the Assembly Education Committee on tenure in the public schools. [Trenton, N.J.]: [New Jersey Assembly, Education Committee]. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/3164583 

Questions to Explore

What caused Morheuser to leave the order of sisterhood and earn a law degree instead?

What cause Morheuser’s interest in funding for poor urban school districts?

What other actions did Morheuser take in order to support children’s education?

Additional Resources

Saxon Wolfgang. 1995. “Marilyn Morheuser Dies at 71; Fought for Parity in Education.” New York Times B8. https://www.worldcat.org/title/5768213661  

Yaffe, Deborah. Other People’s Children: The Battle for Justice and Equality in New Jersey’s Schools. Ukraine: Rutgers University Press, 2007.