Celebrating Black History Month – Constance Baker Motley
In honor of National Black History Month, The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller is proud to feature African Americans that have impacted the nation through jurisprudence.
Appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1966, Constance Baker Motley born in 1921 in New Haven, CT., was the first African-American woman to join the federal judiciary. Leading up to her appointment, Motley maintained an impressive track record for cases argued before the Supreme Court. Through her work as the first female attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, she won nine out of the 10 cases that she argued. Motley may have lost in Swain v. Alabama, but the Supreme Court eventually overruled the decision in Batson v. Kentucky. Motley also wrote the original complaint for Brown v. Board of Education.
With 20 years of NAACP experience under her belt, Motley moved into the political arena in 1964, becoming the first African-American female state senator in New York. A year later, Motley was elected as the first female president of the Manhattan borough, before moving on to the federal judiciary.
She died of congestive heart failure in 2005.