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Celebrating Thurgood Marshall’s Remarkable Achievements

November 17, 2017

O’Melveny, together with The Green Bag, had the privilege of hosting “A Celebration of Thurgood Marshall” at the Newseum in Washington, DC, on November 14. The event paid tribute to Justice Marshall’s achievements as an attorney before he became the first African-American US Supreme Court justice and featured Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan presiding over a moot court.

The event kicked off with a welcome from the Newseum’s Vice President of Education Barbara McCormack and introductory remarks from partner Greg Jacob, who discussed Marshall’s career as a litigator and his legendary place in US history.

The moot court looked back at a key moment in Justice Marshall’s legal career and the civil rights movement, the 1948 case Shelley v. Kraemer, in which the Supreme Court ruled that judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants constituted state action that violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The decision brought an end to 30-plus years of widespread judicial enforcement of privately contracted racial restrictions designed to prevent black families from buying homes in white neighborhoods.

Justice Kagan, along with Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Judge Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (also an alum), represented those who sat on the judicial panel for the case. Debo P. Adegbile of WilmerHale argued on behalf of the petitioners and Rakesh Kilaru of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz argued on behalf of the respondents. After the arguments, the justices shared their reflections about Justice Marshall and his place in history.

Jacob is the senior editor of The Green Bag.