/ August 30, 2008

This Day in Legal History: August 30th

On August 30th, 1967, Justice Thurgood Marshall was confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall, a tireless advocate for equal rights throughout his career, was best known for his victory in Brown v. Board of Education, the catalyst for school desegration throughout the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Marshall to the bench, and he was confirmed 69-11 in the Senate.

While the momentous decision in the Brown case may be Justice Marshall’s most renowned achievement, as a lawyer and a judge Marshall made great strides not only for civil rights, but also for abortion rights, the abolition of the death penalty, and the right to a fair trial. His personal encounters with discrimination and inequality profoundly shaped his style as a jurist from the start. As a young man, Marshall applied to the University of Maryland Law School, in his home state. However, because of the school’s segregation policies, Marshall was denied entrance; there was not enough room for him in the black-only colleges. Marshall was un-deterred, gaining his law degree at Howard University, going on to challenge discrimination as a leader in the NAACP and in the courtroom. The sting of his earlier rejection came full circle in 1936, when he argued the case Murray v. Pearson for an African-American man who was also denied entrance to the UMD law school. Marshall won the case, which found that the law school alternatives for blacks in the state of Maryland were in fact separate, but not equal.

Justice Marshall served on the Supreme Court until 1991, and his sons have followed in his legal footsteps, working under Clinton administration and in state politics.

Source: The History Channel

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