Sullivan is a familiar player at the Supreme Court, but one of the female lawyers making her first argument at the court this month was Christina A. Swarns, director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Her organization did some research and believes she is the first African American woman to make an appearance at the court in three years.
Swarns was representing a Texas death-row inmate who says his sentencing was unconstitutionally marred by the racially discriminatory testimony of a psychologist whom his own attorney called to the stand.
Swarns said she had four months to prepare for the argument, had “extraordinary and enthusiastic support” and was following a tradition: The LDF’s former counsel, Constance Baker Motley, argued 10 Supreme Court cases in the 1960s.
Still, “I was acutely aware of the fact that I was one of a very small number of women of color who have been standing there,” she said in an interview after the argument.
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