WASHINGTON -- During the Senate confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, several Senators have disparaged Justice Thurgood Marshall, his judicial philosophy, and his connection to Elena Kagan, who once clerked for Justice Marshall. In response to these attacks, NAACP LDF Director-Counsel John Payton issues the following statement:
"Thurgood Marshall changed our country dramatically for the better. Astonishingly, Elena Kagan is being attacked by certain members of the Senate Judiciary Committee because she says her mentor was Thurgood Marshall. She could not have had a better mentor.
"Here is what is undisputed: In the middle decades of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was a leader of those forces whose faith in the Constitution and the American Dream dismantled the perverse empire of Jim Crow – with its separate and unequal schools and colleges, its rigidly segregated neighborhoods, and its profoundly unequal opportunity in every sector of American life. As the founder of LDF, Thurgood Marshall helped America understand what democracy really means; and he continued to expound that exalted vision as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
"It is a disservice to the Senate and to the nation to have some, for the sake of hollow posturing, distort Thurgood Marshall's beliefs and his extraordinary contribution to our understanding of justice and equality. Simply put, Thurgood Marshall helped make our union more perfect, and that legacy illuminates the highest possibilities for all Americans yesterday, today and tomorrow."
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is America's legal counsel on issues of race. Through advocacy and litigation, LDF focuses on issues of education, voter protection, economic justice and criminal justice. We encourage students to embark on careers in the public interest through scholarships and internship programs. LDF pursues racial justice to move our nation toward a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all.