Marshall: A giant, not a punching bag

As a longtime acquaintance and professional observer of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, I believe I can accurately say that he is a strong supporter of integrated schools. But some nonTexans who may have read his remarks about Thurgood Marshall yesterday may have doubts. During the opening session of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Cornyn called the legendary, former Supreme Court justice a “judicial activist” who had a “judicial philosophy that concerns me.”

Some of Cornyn’s Republican colleagues on the panel made similar statements in an effort to suggest that Kagan, who long ago clerked for Marshall, also may become a liberal “activist” on the high court.

Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice, operates in a different political world than Marshall did. But it is time for him and other conservatives to leave Marshall alone.

For one thing, Marshall has been dead for a number of years. But more importantly, his place in history is secured by two giant contributions. He was the first African American to serve on the nation’s highest court, and, as an attorney, he successfully argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit that resulted in the integration of the nation’s schools.

He is a huge, positive role model for young people, not a punching bag for political ideologues whose own names soon will be forgotten.

Even the State Board of Education recently voted to keep Marshall in Texas’ curriculum standards, despite the recommendations of two “expertsintheirownminds” reviewers that his name be dropped.

Here is a link to a Washington Post column by Dana Milbank suggesting that Marshall, preposterous as it may seem, couldn’t win Senate confirmation today:


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