NCLEJ Celebrates Women’s History Month
Today, we call attention to Constance Baker Motley, whose accomplishments include:
- First Black woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court.
- Lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- Led the litigation that integrated the Universities of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi among others—defying Southern governors who tried to close the door to Black students.
- First Black woman in the New York State Senate.
- First woman elected as Manhattan Borough President.
- Appointed judge to the Southern District of New York.
“I became aware of Constance Baker Motley’s contributions to civil rights when I worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, at a time when Black lawyers were extremely rare and Black women lawyers rarer still,” said Dennis Parker, Executive Director.
We also take time to recognize the historic nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first public defender to be considered for the Supreme Court, a brilliant choice who would add to the professional diversity on the court.
Professional diversity matters. Below is an excerpt from the testimony to The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States that makes the case.
“Of the current sitting Supreme Court justices, none spent a substantial part of their pre-judicial career working as a legal aid attorney or for a nonprofit civil rights organization. . . . Taken as a whole, the current Court has had little professional exposure to the shortcomings in our legal system when it comes to advancing and protecting the rights of marginalized people and communities.”