NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
|Motto||Defend Educate Empower|
|Purpose||LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.|
|Headquarters||40 Rector Street, 5th floor New York City, New York, 10006 U.S.|
President and Director-Counsel
The organization can trace its origins to the legal department of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that was created by Charles Hamilton Houston in the 1930s. However, in 1940, Thurgood Marshall established LDF as a separate legal entity and, in 1957, the organization became totally independent of the NAACP.
John Payton served as LDF's 6th director-counsel and president from 2008 until his death in March, 2012. Sherrilyn Ifill was named the new president and director-counsel of LDF in November 2012.
While primarily focused on the civil rights of African Americans in the U.S., LDF states it has "been instrumental in the formation of similar organizations that have replicated its organizational model in order to promote equality for Asian-Americans, Latinos, and women in the United States." LDF has also been involved in "the campaign for human rights throughout the world, including in South Africa, Canada, Brazil, and elsewhere."
Areas of activity
- Educational outreach
- Policy research and monitoring legislation
- Provides scholarships for exceptional African-American students.
Areas of concern
- Political Participation
- Economic access
- Criminal justice
Creation and separation from the NAACP
The board of directors of the NAACP created the Legal Defense Fund in 1940 specifically for tax purposes. In 1957, intimidated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, LDF was completely separated from the NAACP and given its own independent board and staff. Although LDF was originally meant to operate in accordance with NAACP policy, after 1961, serious disputes emerged between the two organizations. These disputes ultimately led the NAACP to create its own internal legal department while LDF continued to operate and score significant legal victories as an independent organization.
Probably the most famous case in the history of LDF was Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case in 1954 in which the United States Supreme Court explicitly outlawed de jure racial segregation of public education facilities. During the civil rights protests of the 1960s, LDF represented "the legal arm of the civil rights movement" and provided counsel for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.
- 1935 Murray v. Pearson, removed unconstitutional color bar from the University of Maryland School of Law admission policy. (Managed by Thurgood Marshall for the NAACP before the formal foundation of LDF.)
- 1938: Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, invalidated state laws that denied African-American students access to all-white state graduate schools when no separate state graduate schools were available for African Americans. (Handled by Thurgood Marshall for the NAACP before the formal foundation of LDF.)
- 1940: Abbington v Board of Education of Louisville (KY), a suit argued by Thurgood Marshall and dropped though the settlement led to the removal of a 15 percent salary discrepancy between black and white teachers in the Louisville, Kentucky public schools (see NAACP in Kentucky)
- 1940: Alston v. School Board of City of Norfolk, a federal court order that African-American public school teachers be paid salaries equal to whites, regardless of race.
- 1940: Chambers v. Florida, overturned the convictions — based on coerced confessions — of four young black defendants accused of murdering an elderly white man.
- 1944: Smith v. Allwright, a voting rights case in which the Supreme Court required Texas to allow African Americans to vote in primary elections, formerly restricted to whites.
- 1946: Morgan v. Virginia, desegregated seating on interstate buses.
- 1947: Patton v. Mississippi, ruled against strategies that excluded African Americans from criminal juries.
- 1948: Shelley v. Kraemer, overturned racially discriminatory real estate covenants
- 1948: Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., reaffirmed and extended Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, ruling that Oklahoma could not bar an African-American student from its all-white law school on the ground that she had not requested the state to provide a separate law school for black students.
- 1950: McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, ruled against practices of segregation within a formerly all-white graduate school insofar as they interfered with meaningful classroom instruction and interaction with other students.
- 1950: Sweatt v. Painter, ruled against a Texas attempt to circumvent Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada with a hastily established inferior law school for black students.
- 1953: Barrows v. Jackson, reaffirmed Shelley v. Kraemer, preventing state courts from enforcing restrictive covenants.
- 1954: Brown v. Board of Education, explicitly outlawed de jure racial segregation of public education facilities.
- 1956: Gayle v. Browder, overturned segregation of city buses; see also Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- 1957: Fikes v. Alabama, a further ruling against forced confessions.
- 1958: Cooper v. Aaron barred Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus from interfering with the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School; see also Little Rock Nine.
- 1961: Holmes v. Danner, began the desegregation of the University of Georgia.
- 1962: Meredith v. Fair, won James Meredith admission to the University of Mississippi
- 1963: LDF attorneys defended Martin Luther King, Jr. against contempt charges for demonstrating without a permit in Birmingham, Alabama. See Letter from Birmingham Jail.
- 1963: Watson v. City of Memphis, ruled segregation of public parks unconstitutional.
- 1963: Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, ended segregation of hospitals that received Federal construction funds.
- 1964: Willis v. Pickrick Restaurant, ruled against segregation in public facilities such as restaurants; Lester Maddox closed his restaurant rather than integrate.
- 1964: McLaughlin v. Florida, ruled against anti-miscegenation laws. See also on this issue, Eilers v. Eilers (argued by James A. Crumlin, Sr.) - details in NAACP in Kentucky.
- 1965: Williams v. Wallace, made court order to allow a voting-rights march in Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which had previously been stopped twice by state police.
- 1965: Hamm v. City of Rock Hill, overturned all convictions of demonstrators' participating in civil rights sit-ins.
- 1965: Abernathy v. Alabama and Thomas v. Mississippi, reversed state convictions of Alabama and Mississippi Freedom Riders on the basis of Boynton v. Virginia.
- 1967: Quarles v. Philip Morris, overturned the practice of "departmental seniority", which had forced non-white workers to give up their seniority rights when they transferred to better jobs in previously white-only departments.
- 1967: Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, ruled that "freedom of choice" was an insufficient response to segregated schools.
- 1967: Loving v. Virginia, ruled that state laws banning interracial marriage ("anti-miscegenation laws") in Virginia and 15 other states were unconstitutional because they violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 1968: Newman v. Piggie Park, established that prevailing plaintiffs in civil rights act cases are entitled to receive attorneys' fees from the losing defendant.
- 1969: Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, ruled that a Mississippi school district's foot-dragging with respect to desegregation violated the "all deliberate speed" mandate of Brown v. Board of Education.
- 1969: Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, ruled against using the parade permitting process as a means of suppressing First Amendment rights.
- 1969: Thorpe v. Housing Authority of Durham, ruled that low-income public housing tenants could not be summarily evicted.
- 1969: Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp., required due process for the garnishment of wages.
- 1969: Allen v. State Board of Elections, guaranteed the right to a write-in vote.
- 1970: Ali v. The Division of State Athletic Commission, restored Muhammad Ali's boxing license.
- 1970: Carter v. Jury Commission, approved Federal suits over discrimination in the selection of juries.
- 1970: Turner v. Fouche, overruled a requirement in Taliaferro County, Georgia that grand jury and school board membership be limited to owners of real property.
- 1971: Kennedy-Park Homes Association v. City of Lackawanna, forbade a city government from interfering in the construction of low-income housing in a predominantly white section of the city.
- 1971: Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upheld intra-district busing to desegregate public schools. However, this issue was contested in the courts for three more decades. In the most recent as of 2004[update] related cases, the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2002 refused to review Cappachione v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, in which lower courts had ruled in favor of the school district.
- 1971: Haines v. Kerner, upheld the right of prisoners to challenge prison conditions in federal court.
- 1971: Groppi v. Wisconsin, upheld the right of a criminal defendant in a misdemeanor case to a venue where jurors are not biased against him.
- 1971: Clay v. United States, struck down Muhammad Ali's conviction for refusing to report for military service.
- 1971: Griggs v. Duke Power Company, ruled that tests for employment or promotion that produce different outcomes for blacks and whites are prima facie to be presumed discriminatory, and must measure aptitude for the job in question or they cannot be used.
- 1971: Phillips v. Martin Marietta, ruled that employers may not refuse to hire women with pre-school-aged children unless the same standards are applied to men.
- 1972: Furman v. Georgia, ruled that the death penalty as then applied in 37 states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment because there were inadequate standards to guide judges and juries making the decision which defendants will receive a sentence of death. However, under revised laws, U.S. executions resumed in 1977.
- 1972: Wright v. Council of the City of Emporia and U.S. v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education, ruled against systems' avoiding public school desegregation by the creation of all-white "splinter districts".
- 1972: Alexander v. Louisiana, accepted the use of statistical evidence to prove racial discrimination in the selection of juries.
- 1972: Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, banned discrimination in the provision of municipal facilities.
- 1973: Norwood v. Harrison banned government provision of school books to segregated private schools established to allow whites to avoid public school desegregation.
- 1973: Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, addressed deliberate de facto school segregation, ruling that where deliberate segregation was shown to have affected a substantial part of a school system, the entire district must ordinarily be desegregated.
- 1973: Adams v. Richardson, required federal education officials to enforce Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which requires that state universities, public schools, and other institutions that receive federal money may not discriminate by race.
- 1973: Ham v. South Carolina, ruled that defendants are entitled to have potential jurors interrogated about whether they harbor racial prejudices.
- 1973: McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, ruled that courts should hear cases of alleged unlawful discrimination based on the "minimal showing" that a qualified non-white applied unsuccessfully for a job that either remained open or was filled by a white person.
- 1973: Mourning v. Family Publication Service, upheld the Truth in lending Act, requiring disclosure of the actual cost of a loan.
- 1975: Albemarle v. Moody, mandated back pay for victims of job discrimination.
- 1975: Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1866, passed during Reconstruction, as providing an independent remedy for employment discrimination.
- 1977: Coker v. Georgia, banned capital punishment for rape, the most racially disproportionate application of the death penalty.
- 1977: United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburgh v. Carey, provided that states may consider race in drawing electoral districts if necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act by avoiding a dilution of minority voting strength.
- 1980: Luévano v. Campbell, struck down Federal government use of a written test for hiring into nearly 200 entry-level positions because the test disproportionately disqualified African Americans and Latinos.
- 1980: Enmund v. Florida, struck down a federal "felony murder" statute.
- 1982: Bob Jones University v. U.S. and Goldboro Christian Schools v. U.S., denied tax exempt status to religious schools that discriminate on the basis of race.
- 1983: Major v. Treen, overturned a Louisiana gerrymander intended to reduce African-American voting strength.
- 1984: Gingles v. Edmisten, continued as Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), ruled that at-large countywide election of state legislators illegally diluted black voting strength.
- 1988: Jiggets v. Housing Authority of City of Elizabeth: a district court ordered the HUD to spend $4 million to upgrade predominantly black, as well as predominantly white, housing projects in the city, and to implement federal maintenance, tenant selection and other procedures equitably.
- 1989: Cook v. Ochsner: in a belated coda to Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, a District Court approved a settlement ending a New Orleans hospital's discrimination in emergency room treatment and patient admissions. The settlement also provided increased opportunities for African-American physicians to practice at the hospital.
- 1991: Chisom v. Roemer and Houston Lawyers Association v. Attorney General, established that Voting Rights Act applies to the election of judges.
- 1992: Matthews v. Coye and Thompson v. Raiford, compelled California and Texas, respectively, to enforce and implement federal regulations calling for testing of poor children for lead poisoning.
- 1993: Haynes v. Shoney's: A record court-approved settlement in an employment discrimination case. Shoney's Restaurants agreed to pay African-American employees $105 million and to implement aggressive equal employment opportunity measures.
- 1994: Lawson v. City of Los Angeles and Silva v. City of Los Angeles, led to settlements to end discriminatory use of police dogs in minority neighborhoods.
- 1995: McKennon v. Nashville Banner: The Supreme Court refused to allow employers to defeat otherwise valid claims of job discrimination by relying on facts they did not know until after the discriminatory decision had been made.
- 1996: Sheff v. O'Neill: The Supreme Court of Connecticut, in view of the disparities between Hartford public schools and schools in the surrounding counties, found the state liable for maintaining racial and ethnic isolation, and ordered the legislative and executive branches to propose a remedy.
- 1997: Robinson v. Shell Oil Company, determined that a former employee may sue his ex-employer for retaliating against him (by giving a bad job reference) after he filed discrimination charges over his termination.
- 1998: Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., determined that a general arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement did not deprive an employee of his right to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws in federal court.
- 1999: Campaign to Save Our Public Hospitals v. Giuliani, barred New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani's attempt to privatize public hospitals.
- 2000: Rideau v. Louisiana, threw out the 28-year-old, third conviction of Wilbert Rideau for murder because of discrimination in the composition of the Grand Jury that originally indicted him more than 40 years earlier. (Rideau was retried, convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter, and released in 2005.)
- 2000: Smith v. United States, was resolved when President Clinton commuted the sentence of Kemba Smith. Smith was a young African-American mother whose abusive, domineering boyfriend led her to play a peripheral role (she did not sell drugs but was aware of the selling) in a conspiracy to obtain and distribute crack cocaine. She had been sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 24½ years in prison even though she was a first-time offender.
- 2000: Cromartie v. Hunt and Daly v. Hunt, ruled that it is legal to create, for partisan political reasons, a district with a high concentration of minority voters; hence the North Carolina district from which Mel Watt was elected to the House of Representatives was ruled not to be an illegal gerrymander.
- 2003: Gratz v. Bollinger, ordered the University of Michigan to change admission policies by removing racial quotas in the form of "points", but allowed them to continue to utilize race as a factor in admissions, to admit a diverse entering class of students.
- 2007: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, the Supreme Court ruled racial quotas unconstitutional in PK-12 school assignment, but allowed other remedial school integration programs to continue
- 2009: Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Supreme Court ruled the Voting Rights Act Section 5 preclearance process constitutional.
- 2010: Lewis v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the City of Chicago can be held accountable for each and every time it used a hiring practice that arbitrarily blocked qualified minority applicants from employment.
- 2013: Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, ending the Section 5 preclearance regime. LDF presented oral argument in the Supreme Court.
- 2013: Fisher v. University of Texas, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action, and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for a second view. LDF represented the Black Student Alliance and the Black Ex-Students of Texas, Inc.
- 2014: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Michigan's Proposal 2 voter initiative, which amended the state's constitution to make affirmative action illegal in public employment, public education or public contracting purposes. LDF represented the Plaintiffs challenging Proposal 2.
Prominent LDF attorneys
A number of prominent attorneys have been affiliated with LDF over the years, including Barack Obama who was an LDF cooperating attorney. The following, non-exhaustive list of LDF alumni demonstrates the breadth of positions these attorneys have held or currently hold in public service, the government, academia, the private sector, and other areas.
- Derrick A. Bell, Jr., the first tenured African-American Harvard Law School professor, professor at New York University School of Law, and preeminent Critical Race Theorist.
- Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate on December 22, 2010. Immediately prior to her appointment, Ms. Berrien was the Director of Litigation and Associate Director-Counsel for LDF.
- Robert L. Carter, an assistant counsel at LDF until its 1956 separation from the NAACP, and an architect of Brown v. Board. After the separation, he replaced Thurgood Marshall as the General Counsel for the NAACP. He won numerous cases at the Supreme Court.
- Julius L. Chambers, third director-counsel of LDF.
- William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr., President emeritus of LDF's board and Secretary of Transportation in the administration of President Gerald Ford.
- Drew S. Days, III, the first African-American Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and the United States Solicitor General from 1993 to 1996.
- Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund. During the Mississippi Freedom Summer she headed LDF's Jackson, Mississippi office and handled more than 120 cases.
- Jack Greenberg succeeded Thurgood Marshall and served as LDF's second director-counsel from 1961 to 1984. Greenberg began as an Assistant Counsel at LDF in 1949. He argued more than 40 of LDF's cases before the Supreme Court, including a portion of Brown v. Board. While he was director-counsel, LDF successfully defended the civil rights movement, ended "all deliberate speed" in desegregation, won the first employment discrimination lawsuits in the Supreme Court, and brought about a national moratorium on the death penalty. After leaving the LDF, Greenberg was a Professor at Columbia Law School and the former Dean of Columbia College.
- Lani Guinier, voting rights advocate and the first African-American woman tenured professor at Harvard Law.
- Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and acting head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice from October 2014 until January 2017.
- Eric Holder, the first African-American United States Attorney General. Holder is currently a member of LDF’s Board and interned for LDF as a law student.
- Elaine Jones, successfully argued Furman v. Georgia. LDF's fourth director-counsel and the first female director-counsel.
- Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School. She is frequently mentioned as a potential democratic appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- David E. Kendall, a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP, he represented President Bill Clinton during the President's impeachment proceedings. He is a former LDF staff attorney and currently a member of its Board of Directors.
- Bill Lann Lee, the first Chinese-American Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
- Thurgood Marshall, LDF founder and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. Marshall left LDF in 1961 to become a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before going on to become Solicitor General of the United States and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
- Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American woman to be appointed a Federal Court Judge and the first to argue before the Supreme Court .
- James Nabrit III was an LDF attorney from 1959–1989.
- Deval Patrick, the first African-American Governor of Massachusetts and only the second African American to be elected governor of any state.
- Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Convention since 2011. He interned for LDF as a law student.
- Constance L. Rice, civil rights activist and founder of the Advancement Project.
- Spottswood William Robinson III, the first African-American appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
- Theodore Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Professor Shaw served as the fifth President and Director-Counsel.
- "Our Mission," section: "Our Mission" paragraph 1. NAACP LDF. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
- "LDF@70: 70 Years of Fulfilling the Promise of Equality" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "NAACP v. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 753 F.2d 131 (D.C. Circuit 1985)". Retrieved 2010-11-19. Cite error: Invalid
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- NAACP Legal Defense Fund - History
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund - John Payton Bio
- "Biographies: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Teaching Judicial History, fjc.gov". http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/tu_bush_bio_naacp.html
- Hooks (1979)
- Tarter, Brent. "Aline Elizabeth Black (1906–1974)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- http://www.naacpldf.org/timeline.aspx, The official site provides a Flash-based history of the major cases taken on by LDF. This article has taken extensive portions of this page with the permission of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the copyright holder of that material.
- "U.S. Senate Confirms EEOC Chair, Two Commissioners and General Counsel," EEOC Press Release, December 23, 2010
- Robert L. Carter
- Mississippi Freedom Summer
- 'Eric Holder In Profile,' Washington Post, November 18, 2008
- 1997-Elaine Jones
- 'Pamela S. Karlan - Profile,' New York Times, Updated May 26, 2009
- 'David E. Kendall Bio,' Williams & Connolly
- Asian-American Is Named To Top Civil Rights Position - New York Times
- "Columbia Law School : Full Time Faculty : Theodore M. Shaw". Law.columbia.edu. 1961-11-09. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- Greenberg, Jack "Crusaders in the Courts: Legal Battles of the Civil Rights Movement" (2004)
- Hooks, Benjamin L. "Birth and Separation of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund," Crisis 1979 86(6): 218-220. 0011-1422
- King, Gilbert "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America" (2012)
- Mosnier, L. Joseph. Crafting Law in the Second Reconstruction: Julius Chambers, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Title VII. (2005).
- Tauber, Steven C. "The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the U.S. Supreme Court's Racial Discrimination Decision Making," Social Science Quarterly 1999 80(2): 325-340.
- Tauber, Steven C. "On Behalf of the Condemned? The Impact of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Capital Punishment Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals," Political Research Quarterly 1998 51(1): 191-219.
- Tushnet, Mark V. Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936-1961 (1994)
- Ware, Gilbert. "The NAACP-Inc. Fund Alliance: Its Strategy, Power, and Destruction," Journal of Negro Education 1994 63(3): 323-335. in JSTOR
- NAACP-LDF Official Website, http://www.naacpldf.org/
- LDF 1000 Defenders, https://www.classy.org/campaign/ldfs-1000-defenders_/c114990
- NAACP Scholarships, http://www.free-scholarships.co.uk/NAACP-Scholarships.html