Holt, Marjorie Sewell (1920—)

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Holt, Marjorie Sewell (1920—)

American politician and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1973–1987. Born Marjorie Sewell on September 17, 1920, in Birmingham, Alabama; daughter of Edward Roland Sewell and Alice Juanita (Felts) Sewell; Jacksonville (Florida) University, B.A., 1945; University of Florida College of Law, J.D., 1949; married Duncan McKay Holt, on December 26, 1946; children: Rachel Holt Tschantre; Edward Holt; Victoria Holt Stauffer.

Selected writings:

The Case Against the Reckless Congress (1976); Can You Afford This House (1978).

Born on September 17, 1920, in Birmingham, Alabama, Marjorie Sewell Holt attended Jacksonville Junior College and received a law degree from the University of Florida in 1949. After practicing law in Florida for 13 years, Holt moved to Maryland, where she was admitted to the bar in 1962 and continued her practice. Between 1963 and 1965, she served as a supervisor of elections in Anne Arundel County. For the following six years, she was clerk of the circuit court in the same county, while strengthening her ties to the Republican Party by working as a campaign organizer and a precinct leader. From 1970 to 1972, Holt was a member of the Maryland Governor's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, and in 1971–72, she served as legal counsel for the Maryland State Federation of Republican Women. Holt was also a delegate to four Republican National Conventions (1968, 1976, 1980, and 1984).

Marjorie Sewell Holt was elected in 1972 to the 93rd Congress as a Representative of the Fourth District in the State of Maryland, serving through the 99th Congress in 1987. As a Cold-War politician, she concentrated her efforts on matters of national defense and the armed forces, and she consistently advocated increases in defense spending and enhanced benefits for those in the military. She opposed attempts at a nuclear freeze and supported the development of weapons such as the MX missile and the B-1 bomber. Throughout her career in Congress, Holt pushed for reductions in non-military spending, serving two terms on the Budget Committee and in 1978 introducing the now-standard Republican device of the substitute budget proposal. She served on the Committee on Armed Services during each of her 13 years in the House, becoming the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Procurement and Military Nuclear Systems in her last term in office. Holt was actively opposed to the busing of school-children to effect racial integration in the nation's public school system; a measure she put forth to outlaw busing by constitutional amendment was approved by the House in 1974.

Holt chose not to run for a seat in the 100th Congress and finished her final term on January 3, 1987. She returned to the practice of law in Maryland, residing in Severna Park. In July of that same year, President Ronald Reagan nominated her to the position of member of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.


Office of the Historian. Women in Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

Sonya Elaine Schryer , freelance writer, Lansing, Michigan