Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brown-Nagin to Deliver Fulton Lecture

On Thursday, May 8, LHB Blogger Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Harvard Law, will deliver this year's Fulton Lecture in Legal History:at the University of Chicago Law School.  She will speak on The Honor and Burden of Being First: Judge Constance Baker Motley at theBar and on the Bench:
Professor Brown-Nagin’s talk will examine the legacy of The Honorable Constance Baker Motley—and break new ground in the study of civil rights, women’s rights, and the legal profession. A protégée of Thurgood Marshall, Motley litigated in southern courtrooms during the 1940s and 1950s, when women lawyers scarcely appeared before the bar.  She captivated onlookers who had rarely seen a woman or a black lawyer, much less the extraordinary combination—a black woman lawyer.

In 1966 Motley then became the first African-American woman appointed to the federal judiciary.  After a long confirmation battle, she ascended to the United States District Court in New York.  In her new post, Motley sometimes ruled as segregationists had feared and as liberals had hoped. Typically, Motley deferred to constraints of the judicial role. Therefore, Professor Brown-Nagin  concludes, Motley’s judicial career demonstrates that—more often than not and regardless of who presides—courts preserve hierarchy.
It'll a big week for legal historians at Chicago Law.  Mary Bilder, Boston College Law, will appear in the Constitutional Law Workshop on May 1, and Kjell A. Modeer, University of Lund, will be in the Public Law and Legal Theory Workshop on May 6.