✯✯✯ Thurgood Marshall Argument
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Ames Moot Court Competition 1977
To the Judge, those who disagreed with him on the most important moral issue of the 20th century in America did not thereby lose their humanity. How is that possible? Because he was able to reach across that deep moral divide and find commonalities with those on the other side. Only rarely did he see his opponents as evil; most were simply misguided. People, he knew, can be complicated. Consider Davis. He had represented West Virginia coal miners who were prosecuted for little more than protesting in violation of a court order.
Right around the time of the Brown decision, during the most oppressive years of the McCarthy era, Davis worked with the estimable Lloyd Garrison to fight the order stripping the physicist Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, of his security clearance, because of supposed Communist sympathies. No doubt his attitude contained an element of that. I spent enough time with the Judge to be certain that his warmth toward his opponents was genuine, characteristic of a man who so delighted in his fellow human beings that it was difficult to earn his enmity.
His belief in America was strong, and his distaste for communism equally so. Nevertheless, he opposed punishment for the blacklisted screenwriters, directors and producers known as the Hollywood 10, a choice that could have cost him dearly in , when opponents of his nomination to the Supreme Court used his support for the constitutional rights of those whose views he disliked as evidence of his radical sympathies.
But for Marshall free speech was a near absolute, a right to be enjoyed by those whose ideas were most pernicious. The Judge never believed in measuring speech by its potential for danger. Mandel was an unapologetic Marxist, and the Nixon administration denied him an entry visa. He hated most forms of radicalism, left or right. To the Judge, Communists and Klansmen each constituted dangers to democracy, but he insisted upon their right to be heard. Small wonder that in , he provided the key fifth vote to allow the Nazis to march in Skokie. Though in the end they thought better of the idea. He was angry about President John F. He had his differences with Lyndon Johnson as well but gave him credit for pressing forward with the civil rights laws, even with the knowledge that it would most likely end his political career.
Johnson was also the kind of hard-drinking, storytelling back-room bargainer Marshall liked. The Black radicals of his day the Judge dismissed as a sideshow. Years later, he continued to wonder aloud how he was supposed to keep insisting that the segregationists had no choice but to comply with the edicts of the courts when those on his side claimed the right to disobey laws they considered unjust. For Marshall, law possessed a talismanic quality, representing all that was best in American democracy. Yet the Judge was hardly blind to the imperfections of the legal system. We are not in South Africa. We are here. Marshall was being invited, on national television, to condemn those who had fought the equality of his people over every tiny inch of ground.
I recognize it is a tough problem. I recognize it, and I for one would do everything in my power — so would the N. It was a mark of the genuine grace with which he viewed other people. And it was his ability to find that human connection, to reach out across the greatest moral divide of the 20th century, that enabled the Judge to accomplish so much while maintaining his fundamental dignity and decency. Without that quality, he would have been just another lawyer. A blockbuster term begins. The Supreme Court, now dominated by six Republican appointees, returns to the bench to start a momentous term this fall in which it will consider eliminating the constitutional right to abortion and vastly expanding gun rights.
The big abortion case. The court seems poised to use a challenge to a Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks to undermine and perhaps overturn Roe v. Wade , the decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling could effectively end legal abortion access for those living in much of the South and Midwest. A major decision on guns. The court will also consider the constitutionality of a longstanding New York law that imposes strict limits on carrying guns outside the home. The court has not issued a major Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade.
A test for Chief Justice Roberts. The highly charged docket will test the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. A drop in public support. Chief Justice Roberts now leads a court increasingly associated with partisanship. Recent polls show the court is suffering a distinct drop in public support following a spate of unusual late-night summer rulings in politically charged cases. If there was one thing the Judge hated, it was being told what to do. He always went his own way.
A number of newspapers waited until after Brown was decided. As for always going his own way — he helped teach me that too, even though our mutual devotion to intellectual independence now and then led us into disagreement. Not that he could always go his own way. Jim Crow prevented it. That was the point of another favorite Marshall story. This one was set in various places — once Mississippi, another time South Carolina, yet another Oklahoma — and involved the time Marshall was trying a case in a small, segregated town. He was standing at the train station — or was it the bus station? You have to pick your moments, he was saying. Or at least, in the places he tried cases, he had to. That was why he was careful not to defy local segregation laws: He was in town, he used to say, not on his own behalf but on behalf of his clients.
He was willing to suffer a little in the cause of alleviating their far greater suffering. But the moments he picked! Consider City of Memphis v. The Judge always had a felicitous turn of the simplest phrase, what I thought of as the pinpricks, the sharp little barbs that made big points: like the November oral argument in a death-penalty case, when Justice William Rehnquist asked why taxpayers should have to foot the bill for what the petitioner preferred, a life sentence together with psychiatric care. Or the time a clerk sent a memorandum to let the Judge know that an appeal had been filed in a case raising an issue dear to his heart.
Or the time I asked him why he was so adamant in opposition to capital punishment. And even the occasion of our first meeting, in the spring of I was still a law student, and Marshall came up to Yale to preside over the final round of the moot-court competition. Just before dinner, his wife, Cissy, introduced us. The Judge gave me a skeptical look. He was not about to treat me any differently from anyone else just because he knew my deceased grandmother decades earlier.
One last pinprick: When, after his retirement, the Judge invited me to serve as interviewer for his official oral history, I called the chambers and asked why. About that first meeting while I was a law student. After dinner, Marshall stood up to say a few words. The hero of the story was an unnamed man who went to Las Vegas for a gambling weekend. When you lose all your money, the story continued, two things happen. You get hungry, and you need to use the restroom. Yes, in some of his tellings, the Judge described this need more colorfully. So our hero, having lost all his money, went into the restroom, only to discover that you had to pay to use the stalls.
Twenty-five cents. Our hero was about to pay the quarter to open a stall when he noticed that one of the doors had been left open. He could enter free. When our hero emerged from the restroom, he was standing on the casino floor with 25 cents to his name. So he did what anybody would do. He put the quarter in a slot machine. He kept stuffing quarters into the slot machine, and he kept on winning.
He took a break and wandered the casino floor. He played roulette, he played blackjack. When our hero quit 48 hours later, he had a net worth in the millions of dollars. We do know that 30 years after that night at the casino, our hero had become one of the wealthiest people in the country. At that point, our hero came to a momentous decision. He called the press together and told the assembled reporters the story of how he had made his fortune, beginning with that night in Las Vegas.
The press went wild. Claimants turned up by the thousands. Our hero hired a top firm of private detectives to screen them. After a few months, the head of the agency called him up. Our hero came out from behind his big desk and looked the man up and down. Remind me. What did you do for me exactly? Our hero shook his head. My benefactor is the man who left the door of the stall open! The audience laughed and laughed, not least because the Judge, an old-fashioned spellbinder, paused or gestured at well-chosen instants. Our job is to keep working to open them anyway, not for thanks or glory but for the sake of doing what is right. The year I spent clerking for the Judge coincided with the lateth-century revolution of the right, when Ronald Reagan swept into the White House in a landslide that brought along, for the first time in decades, a Senate controlled entirely by Republicans.
The nation was stunned, but the business of the court continued. On the morning after the election, the justices were scheduled to sit. As I left the chambers to take my seat in the curtained alcove set aside for clerks, I spotted Justice William Brennan, looking hopefully up at the Judge as if seeking deliverance from the results of the previous night. Was it really true — a stricken Brennan asked his fellow liberal lion — that Strom Thurmond would now be chairman of the Judiciary Committee? And at that moment there was every reason to think that the edifice of rights the Judge had spent his life building would soon be under assault.
By the time Marshall finally retired, a bit over a decade later, the assault was well underway. But he never lost his good humor, and even accepted accolades from old adversaries. But it took until — just four years before Brown v. Board of Education was decided — before the group finally resumed accepting Black members. The award was bestowed at a banquet in San Francisco. I was privileged to be among the speakers. By then the Judge was plainly ailing, but he sat patiently through the endless encomiums, doing his best to smile through the pain. When my turn came, I repeated several of his favorite tales, closing with the same Las Vegas story he told on the night we first met.
When I was done, I turned his way to thank him for all the doors he had so brilliantly opened during his unparalleled career. Truth be told, I could hardly finish for the tears. We never completed the oral history. Although we strove mightily and wound up with more than 20 hours of tapes, we knew we were racing a clock neither of us dared mention. Whatever he might have shared with his intimates, each time I walked through the door of his office, he greeted me with the same twinkle in his eye. But although he was tired and would occasionally grimace in obvious discomfort, he was, for the most part, the same peppy and optimistic man I remembered. It was as though he was determined through force of will to teach those around him even how to deal with impending death.
Our final sessions came in the fall of We had finished the material on his career before the Supreme Court and were starting on his life as a justice. We were supposed to resume the interviews in January , the week before the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, where the Judge had promised to swear in Vice President Al Gore. He died a few days later. Before his funeral, he lay in state in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court building, and we who served as law clerks over the years took turns standing watch at the coffin as the public filed past, mourning the passing of a giant.
But I think I can fairly say, without violating my confidentiality agreement, that no earth-shattering disclosures are locked away. When the recordings and transcripts are opened to researchers, the curious will find only more evidence of just how extraordinary a human being Thurgood Marshall was. For some people nowadays, Marshall would tick lots of wrong boxes. He was too close to the F. And yet we all adored him. The Judge was from an era when a person could get away with being larger than life — unlike the present day, when so much of our stultifying public discourse has come to be about joining in unearned moral superiority to look down our noses.
Marshall encouraged us to avoid that attitude — just one of his many life lessons. And let me admit to being emotionally invested. For a young man barely out of school, the Judge provided a steadying influence and a sterling example. Thurgood Marshall, whether he knew it or not, was like a second father to me. Stephen L. Among his current projects is a book about the people outside his family from whom he learned the most; one of them was Thurgood Marshall. What Thurgood Marshall Taught Me. Supported by. Marshall grunted an affirmative. But not this time. Now and then, the Judge liked to say, the crazy people are right. But there was one point he emphasized repeatedly, harking back, perhaps, to his own bitter experience: Grilling the nominee about potential votes was a terrible idea.
I was mistaken. Complicated indeed. Thurgood later recalled, "Now you want to know how I got involved in law? I don't know. The nearest I can get is that my dad, my brother and I had the most violent arguments you ever heard about anything. I guess we argued five out of seven nights at the dinner table. Marshall attended Baltimore's Colored High and Training School later renamed Frederick Douglass High School , where he was an above-average student and put his finely honed skills of argument to use as a star member of the debate team. The teenage Marshall was also something of a mischievous troublemaker.
His greatest high school accomplishment, memorizing the entire United States Constitution , was actually a teacher's punishment for misbehaving in class. After graduating from high school in , Marshall attended Lincoln University, a historically Black college in Pennsylvania. There, he joined a remarkably distinguished student body that included Kwame Nkrumah, the future president of Ghana, poet Langston Hughes and jazz singer Cab Calloway.
Despite being overqualified academically, Marshall was rejected because of his race. This firsthand experience with discrimination in education made a lasting impression on Marshall and helped determine the future course of his career. Instead of Maryland, Marshall attended law school in Washington, D. Marshall quickly fell under the tutelage of Houston, a notorious disciplinarian and extraordinarily demanding professor.
Marshall recalled of Houston, "He would not be satisfied until he went to a dance on the campus and found all of his students sitting around the wall reading law books instead of partying. Marshall graduated magna cum laude from Howard in He briefly attempted to establish his own practice in Baltimore, but without experience, he failed to land any significant cases. Over several decades, Marshall argued and won a variety of cases to strike down many forms of legalized racism, helping to inspire the American civil rights movement. In one of Marshall's first cases — which he argued alongside his mentor, Charles Houston — he defended another well-qualified undergraduate, Donald Murray, who like himself had been denied entrance to the University of Maryland Law School.
Marshall and Houston won Murray v. Pearson in January , the first in a long string of cases designed to undermine the legal basis for de jure racial segregation in the United States. Marshall's first victory before the Supreme Court came in Chambers v. Florida , in which he successfully defended four Black men who had been convicted of murder on the basis of confessions coerced from them by police. Another crucial Supreme Court victory for Marshall came in the case of Smith v. Allwright , in which the Court struck down the Democratic Party's use of white people-only primary elections in various Southern states. The great achievement of Marshall's career as a civil-rights lawyer was his victory in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v.
Board of Education of Topeka. The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of Black parents in Topeka, Kansas, whose children were forced to attend all-Black segregated schools. Through Brown v. Board , one of the most important cases of the 20th century, Marshall challenged head-on the legal underpinning of racial segregation, the doctrine of "separate but equal" established by the Supreme Court case Plessy v. On May 17, , the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," and therefore racial segregation of public schools violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. While enforcement of the Court's ruling proved to be uneven and painfully slow, Brown v. Board provided the legal foundation, and much of the inspiration, for the American civil rights movement that unfolded over the next decade.
At the same time, the case established Marshall as one of the most successful and prominent lawyers in America. Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice, played a vital part in ending legal segregation during the Civil Rights Movement through the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education. In , newly-elected President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall as a judge for the U. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Serving as a circuit court judge over the next four years, Marshall issued more than decisions, none of which was overturned by the Supreme Court. In , Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson , appointed Marshall to serve as the first Black U. During his two years as solicitor general, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he argued before the Supreme Court. In , President Johnson nominated Marshall to serve on the bench before which he had successfully argued so many times before the United States Supreme Court. On October 2, , Marshall was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, becoming the first African American to serve on the nation's highest court.Marshall argued the Investigating Child Abuse In Foster Care, and the justices unanimously took his Thurgood Marshall Argument. Pearsonwhen he, alongside his Thurgood Marshall Argument Houston, successfully sued the Thurgood Marshall Argument of Maryland for Thurgood Marshall Argument a Black applicant admission to Cultural Differences In Mental Health Promotion law school because of his race. And herein lies the Thurgood Marshall Argument to classification: Thurgood Marshall Argument of system. He died Thurgood Marshall Argument few days later. Thurgood Marshall Argument Mildred became Thurgood Marshall Argument at the age of 18, Thurgood Marshall Argument couple decided to get married. Paramount in Houston's outlook was the need to Thurgood Marshall Argument the Supreme Court ruling, Plessy Thurgood Marshall Argument.