August 09, 2010
Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s op-ed, entitled “Also confirmed: Marshall’s legacy,” appeared in the August 8, 2010, edition of The Boston Globe. According to Minow, the appointment of Elena Kagan’86 to the Supreme Court serves as a reminder of Marshall’s enduring legacy and most significant contribution to American law: his successful argument of Brown v. Board of Education.
Minow, who assumed her deanship in June of 2009, served as a clerk for Justice Marshall, as did Kagan, who served as a co-clerk (with HLS professor Carol Steiker ‘86) for Justice Marshall during the 1987-1988 term of the Supreme Court. Minow is the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. professor of law, and author of “In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Constitutional Landmark.”
NOW THAT the Senate has confirmed Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, there will be post-mortems about the confirmation process. Many members of the Judiciary Committee criticized Kagan for her admiration of Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked. I also clerked for Marshall, and found that these criticisms revealed not only a lack of knowledge of Marshall’s precise adherence to rules and precedent but also a failure to appreciate the significance of his contributions to American law. Kagan’s confirmation is not only a victory for her, but also a confirmation of Marshall’s enduring legacy.