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Jack Greenberg (lawyer)

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Jack Greenberg (born December 22, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York)[1][2] is an American attorney and legal scholar. He was the Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 1961 to 1984, succeeding Thurgood Marshall.[3]

He was involved in numerous crucial cases, including Brown v. Board of Education.[3][4][5] In all, he argued 40 civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.[5][6] He has served as Dean of Columbia College and Vice Dean of Columbia Law School, and is currently the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. Professor of Law at Columbia University's Law School.[5][7]

Education and career


Greenberg graduated from Columbia College in 1945, and Columbia Law School in 1948.[8]

Civil and human rights lawyer

Greenberg became the only white legal counselor for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund ("LDF") in 1949, and, in 1961, succeeded Thurgood Marshall as LDF's Director-Counsel.

Greenberg recalled his earliest arguments before the Supreme Court, saying:

"It was like a religious experience; the first few times I was there I was full of awe. I had an almost tactile feeling. The first time I was in the Court, I wasn't arguing. I felt as if I were in a synagogue, and reached to see whether or not I had a yarmulke on. I thought I ought to have one on."[9]

In addition to arguing Brown v. Board of Education as co-counsel with Thurgood Marshall,[10] other cases Greenberg argued include Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, which ordered the end of segregated school systems "at once," and Griggs v. Duke Power Company,[11] which outlawed basing employment and promotion decisions on the results of tests with a discriminatory impact. He also argued Furman v. Georgia (1972),[12][13] in which the Court held that the death penalty as it was then applied was a violation of the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Greenberg is a founding member of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and of Human Rights Watch.[14][15]


Greenberg was an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School from 1970–84, a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School in 1971, and a visiting professor at College of the City of New York in 1977.

Greenberg left LDF in 1984 to become a professor and Vice Dean at Columbia Law School. He served as Dean of Columbia College from 1989 to 1993.[8] Greenberg's teaching interests include constitutional law, civil rights, and human rights law, civil procedure, "Kafka and the Law", and South Africa's post-apartheid constitution. As of fall 2013, Greenberg still taught at Columbia Law School, and served as a senior director of LDF.

He was also a distinguished visiting professor at University of Tokyo Faculty of Law in 1993-94 and at St. Louis University Law School in 1994, and a visiting professor at Lewis and Clark Law School in 1994 and 1996, at Princeton University in 1995, at University of Munich in 1998, at Tokyo University in 1996 and 1998, at University of Nuremberg-Erlangen in 1999-2000, and at Hebrew University in 2005.


Greenberg has varied intellectual interests: aside from several books on law and civil rights, including Crusaders in the Courts,[16] he has written a cookbook (Dean Cuisine, with Harvard Law School Dean James Vorenberg, 1990),[17] and appeared as a panelist for a New York Times tasting of Oregon pinot noir. He also edited Franz Kafka: The Office Writings (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008) with two other scholars.[18]


In 2001, Greenberg was awarded a Presidential Citizens Medal.[19] President Bill Clinton commented "In the courtroom and the classroom, Jack Greenberg has been a crusader for freedom and equality for more than half a century."[20] In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[21] In 1996 Greenberg was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award by the American Bar Association for his long-term contributions to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the U.S.[22] Greenberg received an honorary degree of doctor of laws from Notre Dame University in 2005.[23] He also received an honorary degree from Howard University in 2004.[14]

Select publications

See also


  1. ^ Jack Greenberg bio. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed February 10, 2010
  2. ^ Profiles in humanity: the battle for peace, freedom, equality, and human rights, Warren I. Cohen, Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, ISBN 0-7425-6701-X, accessed February 10, 2010
  3. ^ a b Teaching With Documents: Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education. Biographies of Attorneys and Litigants: Brown v. Board of Education. National Archives. Accessed February 10, 2010
  4. ^ 'Brown' Lawyer Jack Greenberg. National Public Radio, May 17, 2004
  5. ^ a b c Columbia Law School website page on Jack Greenberg. Accessed February 10, 2010.
  6. ^ The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, bios of speakers. Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation Network. Accessed February 10, 2010
  7. ^ Professor Jack Greenberg ’48 and Jeh Johnson '82 Win Wien Prize. Columbia Law School press release, Columbia University, December 2, 2009. Accessed February 10, 2010
  8. ^ a b Faculty profile. Columbia University Law School. Accessed February 10, 2010
  9. ^ Lehrer, Jeremy, "Jack Greenberg, a legend of the civil rights era, discusses the past and present of the civil rights movement",, Fall 1997, accessed February 9, 2010
  10. ^ "Jack Greenberg", Huffington Post, accessed February 9, 2010
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Rebecca Stefoff, Furman V. Georgia: Debating the Death Penalty. Marshall Cavendish, 2007, ISBN 0-7614-2583-7; p. 79
  13. ^ FURMAN v. GEORGIA, 408 U.S. 238 (1972). Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Accessed February 10, 2010
  14. ^ a b Charter Day 2004 Honorary Degree Recipients. Howard University. Accessed February 10, 2010
  15. ^ JACK GREENBERG bio, THE FORUM ON LAW, CULTURE & SOCIETY AT FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL, Fordham University. Accessed February 10, 2010
  16. ^ Jack Greenberg, Crusaders in the courts : how a dedicated band of lawyers fought for the civil rights revolution. BasicBooks, New York, 1994. ISBN 0-465-01518-2
  17. ^ Jack Greenberg, and James Vorenberg, Dean Cuisine. Sheep Meadow Press, 1990. ISBN 0-935296-99-9
  18. ^ Franz Kafka: The Office Writings. Edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner. Princeton University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-691-12680-7
  19. ^ Beyond the Call Of Civic Duty; Clinton Cites 28 Extraordinary Citizens. Washington Post, January 9, 2001.
  20. ^ President Clinton Awards the Presidential Citizens Medals. White House press release. January 8, 2001
  21. ^ List of members by class and section. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Accessed February 10, 2010
  22. ^ Thurgood Marshall Award. History of Award and Past Recipients. American Bar Association. Accessed February 10, 2010
  23. ^ ND will award 13 honorary degrees at commencement. The Observer, April 21, 2005. Accessed February 10, 2010

External links

Preceded by
Robert Pollack
Dean of Columbia College
Succeeded by
Steven Marcus