Today, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a series of decisions highlighting the ongoing importance of civil rights to the Court’s docket this Term, as well as the country at large. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is gratified that the Court, by overwhelming majority, upheld discrimination claims in two key cases:
– In Green v. Brennan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for a 7-1 majority of the Supreme Court, announced a decision in favor of an African-American employee who had challenged workplace discrimination. That case involved a rule that would have required employees challenging discriminatory conduct to calculate their employer’s last discriminatory act, rather than simply bringing action within a certain time after they resigned. LDF filed a brief supporting the employee and stressing how and why these procedural barriers were unfair, legally groundless, and contrary to the purpose of anti-discrimination laws. Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision as an “important recognition of the vulnerability of workers to discrimination and of the need to ensure the availability of effective opportunities to challenge biased conduct by employers.”
– A second case, Foster v. Chatman involved a clear case of flagrant discrimination in jury selection. The Supreme Court, in a 7-1 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, found that the lower court clearly erred in finding that the defendant had failed to show purposeful discrimination. LDF’s Director of Litigation, Christina Swarns, stated that “there was simply no way to deny the extraordinary evidence of intentional discrimination against African-American prospective jurors in this case. The Justices properly reaffirmed the longstanding principle that racial bias in jury selection is unacceptable under the U.S. Constitution.”
– In addition, the Court decided Wittman v. Personhuballah, a case about whether Virginia’s redistricting plan constituted an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The Justices unanimously dismissed the appeal on the grounds that certain members of Congress lacked standing to bring an appeal in the first place. The Court declined to address the merits of the case.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.