separate but equaldoctrine achieved its greatest impact with the landmark decision handed down in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). His appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1961 was opposed by some Southern senators and was not confirmed until 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court two years later; he was the first black to sit on the high court, where he consistently supported the position taken by those challenging discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. His support for affirmative action led to his strong dissent in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978). As appointments by Presidents Nixon and Reagan changed the outlook of the Court, Marshall found himself increasingly in the minority; in retirement he was outspoken in his criticism of the court.
See M. G. Long, ed., Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall (2011); biography by J. Williams (1998); studies by R. W. Bland (1973) and H. Ball (1999); R. Kluger, Simple Justice (1976); W. Haygood, Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America (2015).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Supreme Court: Biographies