HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The new federal courthouse in Harrisburg will be named after longtime local judge Sylvia Rambo.
Rambo, who is now 86 years old, is still on the job. And there will be a ceremony on June 22 to honor her accomplishments.
“I came from a broken home. I was first person in my family to even get a college education,” said Rambo. However, she wasn’t just the first person in her family to pursue higher education.
She was also the first woman chief public defender, the first woman judge in Cumberland County, the first woman federal judge for Pennsylvania’s middle district, the first chief justice for Pennsylvania’s middle district, and now the first woman in Pennsylvania to have a courthouse named after her.
“I’m still in shock, don’t know how to deal with it. At my age I never anticipated anything like this would ever happen,” added Rambo.
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Rambo was appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1979, the same year of the Three Mile Island incident. She served as the main judge on 20 years of lawsuits that followed the partial meltdown, and mostly ruled against the claims of personal injury from the fallout.
“There was insufficient evidence to show anybody to prove injury from the radiation and there are still people to this day who are very upset with that,” said Rambo.
Rambo also shared her concerns with how politicized courtrooms have become, leading to a mistrust in the judicial system.
“A judge should not express an opinion on issues that may come before them and that is what is happening and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Rambo.
Naming the new courthouse after Rambo received bipartisan support in Congress and unanimous approval from fellow judges. Republican Judge John Jones actively lobbied for Rambo, calling her, “The Sandra Day O’Connor of the middle district of Pennsylvania with a dash of Ruth Bader Ginsburg thrown in to the mix.”
What advice does Rambo have for young people today? “Stay away from these phones that they’re always looking at. Get out there and talk to people eyeball to eyeball,” said Rambo.
After hearing countless court cases over multiple decades, Rambo shared what she is most proud of, “That I’m still alive and working.”
Rambo will have an office located in the new courthouse that is named after her.