Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993)

Thurgood Marshall was an attorney known best for his arguments before the Supreme Court, rather than his tenure as a justice. He argued more cases before the United States Supreme Court than anyone else in history.  then served as the Solicitor General after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967.

Thurgood Marshall's Personal Life

Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908. He was the great-grandson of a slave, and his grandfather was also a slave. It is noteworthy because of the incredible legal gains he made for African Americans during his career.

Marshall graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore in 1925 and from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930. Marshall wanted to apply tothe University of Maryland School of Law, but the dean allegedly informed him that he would not be accepted because of the school's segregation policy. Marshall instead attended Howard University School of Law, where he graduated first in his class in 1933.

Just three years later, Marshall successfully represented a client in a suit against the University of Maryland Law School for its policy, which resulted in ending the segregation policy there in Murray v. Pearson.

He was eventually appointed chief counsel for the NAACP where he argued many other civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, most of them successfully, including Shelley v. Kraemer.

His most famous case as a lawyer, however, was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" public education,  as derived from the logic set forth in Plessy v. Ferguson, was not applicable to public education because separate could never be truly equal.Brown laid the groundwork for a vast array of equal protection case, stretching far beyond the mere issue of education.

As a practicing attorney, Marshall won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall's Time on the Court

After his incredibly laudable tenure as a practicing attorney, Marshall served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, after being appointed by President Kennedy. He was later appointed to Associate Justice by President Johnson in 1967, and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 69–11 on August 30, 1967. He was the first African American on the Court. Marshall retired from the Supreme Court in 1991, and was replaced by Clarence Thomas.

 

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