The Supreme Court: The First Negro Justice

Rarely was the nominee's race mentioned, though it was largely the point at issue. Instead, Southern critics like South Carolina's Strom Thurmond argued abstractly that Thurgood Marshall's "activist" legal outlook disqualified him for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A substantial majority of the U.S. Senate did not agree. Never, said Michigan's Philip Hart, has there been a Supreme Court nominee "whose qualifications are so dramatically and compellingly established." That was more praise than Marshall needed or deserved. Still, the fact that his nomination was politically judicious could take nothing from his 27-year career as counsel for the N.A.A.C.P.,...

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