University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
 
Name Motley, Constance Baker
City New York
State NY
Role(s) Judge : Federal, Article III
Race African-American
Gender F
Biographical
Following graduation from Columbia Law School in 1946, Constance Baker began her legal career working for the chief counsel for the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Thurgood Marshall, in the New York office. She eventually became the LDF's Associate Counsel (LDF's principal trial ... read more
Following graduation from Columbia Law School in 1946, Constance Baker began her legal career working for the chief counsel for the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Thurgood Marshall, in the New York office. She eventually became the LDF's Associate Counsel (LDF's principal trial attorney).

From her position with the NAACP LDF, Motley participated in most of the important Civil Rights cases from 1945 to 1965. In 1950, she prepared the draft complaint for what would become Brown v. Board of Education. She was the only woman on the NAACP legal team for Brown.

Later, in the case of Meredith v. Fair, 298 F.2d 696 (5th Cir. 1962), she was lead counsel for James Meredith in forcing integration of the University of Mississippi. From 1961 to 1964, she amassed the amazing winning record by prevailing in 9 of the 10 civil rights cases she argued before the Supreme Court.

Motley pursued a short political career, becoming in 1964, the first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate. In 1966 she became the first African-American woman to be a federal judge when President Johnson appointed her to the federal district court for the Southern District Court of New York. There she handled many important cases, including in particular one in 1978 requiring the NY Yankees to admit a female reporter to the Yankees' locker room. She was appointed chief judge of the SDNY in 1982, and in 1986 took the status of senior judge. She died in 2005.

Motley wrote an autobiography, Equal Justice Under Law: The Life of a Pioneer for Black Civil Rights and Women's Rights (1988).



This additional biographical data was taken from the Federal Judicial Center [link] on Aug 15, 2016:

Motley, Constance Baker
Born September 14, 1921, in New Haven, CT
Died September 28, 2005, in New York, NY

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson on January 26, 1966, to a seat vacated by Archie O. Dawson. Confirmed by the Senate on August 30, 1966, and received commission on August 30, 1966. Served as chief judge, 1982-1986. Assumed senior status on September 30, 1986. Service terminated on September 28, 2005, due to death.

Education:
New York University, B.A., 1943
Columbia Law School, LL.B., 1946

Professional Career:
Attorney, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 1945-1965
Member, New York State Advisory Council on Employment and Unemployment Insurance, 1958-1964
State senator, New York, 1964-1965
Borough president, Manhattan, New York, 1965-1966
Research Collections
Oral History
Bibliography
Portraits

compress summary

Case(s) EE-NY-0205 : Cokely v. New York Convention Center Operating Corporation
EE-NY-0206 : Martens v. Smith Barney
EE-NY-0260 : Gulino v. New York State Education Department
JC-NY-0050 : Handberry v. Thompson
JI-FL-0001 : Singleton v. Board of Commissioners
JI-NY-0006 : Pena v. New York State Division for Youth
SD-LA-0014 : Conley v. Lake Charles School Board, Calcasieu Parish School Board
SD-TN-0004 : Hill v. Board of Education of Franklin County


Additional Resources
 
Case Studies "Equal Justice Under Law: The Life of a Pioneer for Black Civil Rights and Women's Rights"
By: Constance Baker Motley
[ Detail ]

Web Resources Constance Baker Motley
http://www.brownat50.org
By: BrownAt50.org
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]


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