Janet Mary Riley, 92, a Loyola University law professor who helped make Louisiana women equal partners in their marriages, has died.
Ms. Riley died Saturday at the Chateau de Notre Dame nursing home in New Orleans, a nursing home employee said.
Ms. Riley, who lived in New Orleans all her life, was the first female professor on Loyola's law faculty. Sixteen of the 60 current faculty members are women.
Until the 1970s, Louisiana's community property law made the husband "head and master of the community," giving him total control of his wife's assets.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1971 that the U.S. Constitution bans certain types of sex-based discrimination, the Louisiana State Law Institute, which can revise the state's civil code, appointed Riley the leader of a committee to revise the law.
Her suggestion was an "equal management" plan that would let either spouse manage community property, with limited exceptions. She tried to persuade the council to support it, but got nowhere, and in 1977 the committee disbanded.
But the proposal wasn't dead. State Sen. Tom Casey drafted a resolution based on the "equal management" approach. The Legislature adopted it, and it became law in 1979. - Associated Press