Civil rights

Civil Rights Lawyer Professor Lani Guinier Dies at 71 | New policies


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By JESSICA GRESKO and GARY FIELDS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lani Guinier, a lawyer and civil rights scholar whose appointment by President Bill Clinton as head of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division has been withdrawn after Tories criticized her views on correcting racial discrimination, has passed away. She was 71 years old.

Guinier died on Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning said in a message to students and faculty. Her cousin, Sherrie Russell-Brown, said in an email that the cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a full professor position at Harvard Law School when she joined the faculty in 1998. Prior to that, she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She previously led the Voting Rights Project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s and served during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which she was later named. in the head.

“I always wanted to be a civil rights lawyer. This long-standing ambition is based on a deep commitment to democratic fair play – to play by the rules as long as the rules are fair. When the rules seem unfair, I have worked to change them, not to overturn them, ”she wrote in her 1994 book,“ Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy ”.

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Clinton, who knew Guinier during their time at Yale Law School, appointed her to the Justice Department position in 1993. But Guinier, who wrote as a law professor on ways to address racial discrimination, has been criticized by conservative critics who have called her extreme views and called her the “queen of the quota”. Guinier said the label was bogus, that she was not in favor of quotas or even written about them, and that her views had been distorted.

Clinton, in withdrawing her appointment, said he did not read her academic writings before appointing her and that he would not have done so if he had.

In a press conference held at the Justice Department after his appointment was withdrawn, Guinier said: “If I had been permitted to testify in a public forum before the United States Senate, I believe the Senate would also have agreed that I am the right fit. for this job, a job that some say I have followed my whole life.

Guinier said she was “greatly disappointed that I was denied the opportunity to move forward, to be confirmed and to work closely together to move this country away from the polarization of the past 12 years, to lower the decibel level of the rhetoric that surrounds race and build bridges between people of good will to uphold civil rights laws on behalf of all Americans. “

She was singled out more in a speech at an NAACP conference a month later.

“I endured the personal humiliation of being vilified as a madwoman with strange hair – you know what that means – a strange name and strange ideas, ideas like democracy, freedom and fairness that mean that all people must be represented equally in our political process, “says Guinier. “But lest one of you take pity on me, according to the press, the president still loves me. He just doesn’t want to give me a job.

On Twitter Friday, Sherrilyn Ifill, director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, called Guinier “my mentor” and “uncompromising genius scholar.”

Manning, the dean of law at Harvard, said: “Her scholarship has changed our understanding of democracy – of why and how the voices of historically underrepresented people need to be heard and what it takes to be eligible to vote. significant. It has also transformed our understanding of the education system and what we need to do to create opportunities for all members of our diverse society to learn, grow and thrive in school and beyond.

Penn Law Dean Emeritus Colin Diver, whose time as dean overlapped Guinier’s time in faculty, said she “has pushed the boundaries in many important and constructive ways: advocating for methods of voting alternatives, such as cumulative voting, questioning the law school’s implicit expectations that female students behave like “gentlemen,” or offering alternative methods to assess and select law school applicants. “

Carol Lani Guinier was born on April 19, 1950 in New York City. His father, Ewart Guinier, became the first chair of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. Her mother, Eugenia “Genii” Paprin Guinier, became a civil rights activist. The couple – he was black and she was white and Jewish – had married at a time when it was still illegal for interracial couples to marry in many states.

Harvard Radcliffe College graduate Lani Guinier is survived by her husband, Nolan Bowie, and son, Nikolas Bowie, also a professor at Harvard Law School.

“My mother believed deeply in democracy, but she believed that it could only work if power was shared and not monopolized. This idea informed everything she’s done, from treating generations of students like peers to challenging hierarchies wherever she found them. I miss her terribly, ”her son wrote in an email.

The other survivors include a daughter-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.

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