A federal judge agreed Tuesday that another woman may take up where Shannon Faulkner left off in the fight to get women into the corps of cadets at The Citadel.
U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck formally dismissed Faulkner as a plaintiff after a 2-1/2-year court battle to become a cadet at the allmale school.
Nancy Mellette, a senior at a North Carolina military preparatory academy, replaces Faulkner, who dropped out of The Citadel in August after less than a week as the first female cadet at the state military college.
“It seems to me Ms. Faulkner’s claim in this case is moot,” Houck said. “She has brought a lawsuit to obtain a particular result, she has attained the result and for all intents and purposes has voluntarily given up the benefits of that result.”
Houck said the court battle - now focused on whether a women’s leadership program at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C. is a legal alternative to women at the Citadel - will go to trial on Nov. 13.
Mellette, 17, appeared in court with her mother, Connie. Her father is a Citadel graduate and her brother is a senior Citadel cadet.
She responded with a quiet “Yes, sir,” when asked by Houck if she was willing to represent the interests of other women who hope to become cadets. She refused to speak with reporters afterwards.
“She intervened at this point because she wants to attend The Citadel,” said her attorney, Val Vojdik, who also represented Faulkner.
“She wants to pick up the baton, so to speak, and carry it forward.”
Houck also refused, for now, to make the case a class-action lawsuit representing all women who may want to become cadets at the school. He said he had to study the case law further.
Houck said allowing Mellette to step in will ensure, for now, that the interests of all women who hope to become cadets are represented.
“Here at the 11th hour to take such a significant part of the case away by eliminating an individual plaintiff couldn’t, in my opinion, constitute justice,” Houck said.