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NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
LDF Logo.gif
Formation1940 (1940)
TypeNon-profit organization
PurposeLDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.[1]
Headquarters40 Rector Street, 5th floor New York City, New York, 10006 U.S.
Region served
United States
President and Director-Counsel
Sherrilyn Ifill

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF or LDF) is a leading United States civil rights organization and law firm based in New York City.

LDF is wholly independent and separate from the NAACP.[2] Although LDF can trace its origins to the legal department of the NAACP created by Charles Hamilton Houston in the 1930s,[3][4] Thurgood Marshall founded LDF as a separate legal entity in 1940 and LDF became totally independent from the NAACP in 1957.[2]

Sherrilyn Ifill currently serves as the seventh President and Director-Counsel, since 2013.[5] Previous Director-Counsels include John Payton (2008–2012), Ted Shaw (2004–2008), Elaine Jones (1993–2004), Julius Levonne Chambers (1984–1993), Jack Greenberg (1961–1984), and founder Thurgood Marshall (1940–1961).[6]


While primarily focused on the civil rights of African Americans in the U.S., LDF states it has "been instrumental in the formation of similar organizations that have replicated its organizational model in order to promote equality for Asian-Americans, Latinos, and women in the United States." LDF has also been involved in "the campaign for human rights throughout the world, including in South Africa, Canada, Brazil, and elsewhere."[2]

LDF's national office is in Manhattan, with regional offices in Washington, D.C. LDF has nearly two dozen staff lawyers and hundreds of cooperating attorneys across the nation.[2]

Areas of activity

  • Litigation
  • Advocacy
  • Educational outreach
  • Policy research and monitoring legislation
  • Coalition-building
  • Provides scholarships for exceptional African-American students.

Areas of concern

Creation and separation from the NAACP

The board of directors of the NAACP created the Legal Defense Fund in 1940 specifically for tax purposes.[7] In 1957, LDF was completely separated from the NAACP and given its own independent board and staff.[7] Although LDF was originally meant to operate in accordance with NAACP policy, after 1961, serious disputes emerged between the two organizations. These disputes ultimately led the NAACP to create its own internal legal department while LDF continued to operate and score significant legal victories as an independent organization.[4][8]

At times, this separation has created considerable confusion in the eyes and minds of the public.[8] In the 1980s, the NAACP unsuccessfully sued LDF for trademark infringement.[4] In its ruling rejecting the NAACP’s lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recognized that the "universal esteem in which the [NAACP] initials are held is due in significant measure to [LDF's] distinguished record as a civil rights litigator" and that the NAACP has "benefitted from the added luster given to the NAACP initials by the LDF's litigation successes."[4]

Well-known cases

Probably the most famous case in the history of LDF was Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case in 1954 in which the United States Supreme Court explicitly outlawed de jure racial segregation of public education facilities. During the civil rights protests of the 1960s, LDF represented "the legal arm of the civil rights movement" and provided counsel for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others.[2]






  • 1970: Ali v. The Division of State Athletic Commission, restored Muhammad Ali's boxing license.
  • 1970: Carter v. Jury Commission, approved Federal suits over discrimination in the selection of juries.
  • 1970: Turner v. Fouche, overruled a requirement in Taliaferro County, Georgia that grand jury and school board membership be limited to owners of real property.
  • 1971: Kennedy-Park Homes Association v. City of Lackawanna, forbade a city government from interfering in the construction of low-income housing in a predominantly white section of the city.
  • 1971: Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, upheld intra-district busing to desegregate public schools. However, this issue was contested in the courts for three more decades. In the most recent as of 2004 related cases, the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2002 refused to review Cappachione v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, in which lower courts had ruled in favor of the school district.
  • 1971: Haines v. Kerner, upheld the right of prisoners to challenge prison conditions in federal court.
  • 1971: Groppi v. Wisconsin, upheld the right of a criminal defendant in a misdemeanor case to a venue where jurors are not biased against him.
  • 1971: Clay v. United States, struck down Muhammad Ali's conviction for refusing to report for military service.
  • 1971: Griggs v. Duke Power Company, ruled that tests for employment or promotion that produce different outcomes for blacks and whites are prima facie to be presumed discriminatory, and must measure aptitude for the job in question or they cannot be used.
  • 1971: Phillips v. Martin Marietta, ruled that employers may not refuse to hire women with pre-school-aged children unless the same standards are applied to men.
  • 1972: Furman v. Georgia, ruled that the death penalty as then applied in 37 states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment because there were inadequate standards to guide judges and juries making the decision which defendants will receive a sentence of death. However, under revised laws, U.S. executions resumed in 1977.
  • 1972: Wright v. Council of the City of Emporia and U.S. v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education, ruled against systems' avoiding public school desegregation by the creation of all-white "splinter districts".
  • 1972: Alexander v. Louisiana, accepted the use of statistical evidence to prove racial discrimination in the selection of juries.
  • 1972: Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, banned discrimination in the provision of municipal facilities.
  • 1973: Norwood v. Harrison banned government provision of school books to segregated private schools established to allow whites to avoid public school desegregation.
  • 1973: Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, addressed deliberate de facto school segregation, ruling that where deliberate segregation was shown to have affected a substantial part of a school system, the entire district must ordinarily be desegregated.
  • 1973: Adams v. Richardson, required federal education officials to enforce Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which requires that state universities, public schools, and other institutions that receive federal money may not discriminate by race.
  • 1973: Ham v. South Carolina, ruled that defendants are entitled to have potential jurors interrogated about whether they harbor racial prejudices.
  • 1973: McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, ruled that courts should hear cases of alleged unlawful discrimination based on the "minimal showing" that a qualified non-white applied unsuccessfully for a job that either remained open or was filled by a white person.
  • 1973: Mourning v. Family Publication Service, upheld the Truth in lending Act, requiring disclosure of the actual cost of a loan.
  • 1975: Albemarle v. Moody, mandated back pay for victims of job discrimination.
  • 1975: Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1866, passed during Reconstruction, as providing an independent remedy for employment discrimination.
  • 1977: Coker v. Georgia, banned capital punishment for rape, the most racially disproportionate application of the death penalty.
  • 1977: United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburgh v. Carey, provided that states may consider race in drawing electoral districts if necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act by avoiding a dilution of minority voting strength.


  • 1980: Luévano v. Campbell, struck down Federal government use of a written test for hiring into nearly 200 entry-level positions because the test disproportionately disqualified African Americans and Latinos.
  • 1980: Enmund v. Florida, struck down a federal "felony murder" statute.
  • 1982: Bob Jones University v. U.S. and Goldboro Christian Schools v. U.S., denied tax exempt status to religious schools that discriminate on the basis of race.
  • 1983: Major v. Treen, overturned a Louisiana gerrymander intended to reduce African-American voting strength.
  • 1984: Gingles v. Edmisten, continued as Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), the Supreme Court ruled that at-large countywide election of state legislators illegally discriminated against black voters, and the Court established the standard for identifying "vote dilution" under the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act.
  • 1986: Dillard v. Crenshaw County Commission: a district court ordered over 180 of the local government bodies in counties, cities, and school boards in Alabama to change their methods of election because intentionally racially discriminatory state laws had made it extremely difficult for Black voters to elect their preferred candidates to local office.[10]
  • 1987: McClesky v. Kemp: in a 5–4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Georgia's death penalty and held that statistical evidence showing pervasive racial bias in the administration of the death penalty was not sufficient to invalidate a death sentence.[11]
  • 1988: Jiggets v. Housing Authority of City of Elizabeth: a district court ordered the HUD to spend $4 million to upgrade predominantly black, as well as predominantly white, housing projects in the city, and to implement federal maintenance, tenant selection and other procedures equitably.
  • 1989: Cook v. Ochsner: in a belated coda to Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, a District Court approved a settlement ending a New Orleans hospital's discrimination in emergency room treatment and patient admissions. The settlement also provided increased opportunities for African-American physicians to practice at the hospital.


  • 1991: Chisom v. Roemer and Houston Lawyers Association v. Attorney General, established that Voting Rights Act applies to the election of judges.
  • 1992: Matthews v. Coye and Thompson v. Raiford, compelled California and Texas, respectively, to enforce and implement federal regulations calling for testing of poor children for lead poisoning.
  • 1993: Haynes v. Shoney's: A record court-approved settlement in an employment discrimination case. Shoney's Restaurants agreed to pay African-American employees, applicants, and white managers who resisted the practices, $105 million and to implement aggressive equal employment opportunity measures.[12]
  • 1994: Lawson v. City of Los Angeles and Silva v. City of Los Angeles, led to settlements to end discriminatory use of police dogs in minority neighborhoods.
  • 1995: McKennon v. Nashville Banner: The Supreme Court refused to allow employers to defeat otherwise valid claims of job discrimination by relying on facts they did not know until after the discriminatory decision had been made.
  • 1996: Sheff v. O'Neill: The Supreme Court of Connecticut, in view of the disparities between Hartford public schools and schools in the surrounding suburbs, found the state liable for maintaining racial and ethnic isolation, and ordered the legislative and executive branches to propose a remedy.
  • 1997: Robinson v. Shell Oil Company, determined that a former employee may sue his ex-employer for retaliating against him (by giving a bad job reference) after he filed discrimination charges over his termination.
  • 1998: Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., determined that a general arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement did not deprive an employee of his right to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws in federal court.
  • 1999: Campaign to Save Our Public Hospitals v. Giuliani, barred New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani's attempt to privatize public hospitals.


  • 2000: Rideau v. Whitley, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit threw out the 28-year-old, third conviction of Wilbert Rideau for murder because of discrimination in the composition of the Grand Jury that originally indicted him more than 40 years earlier. (Rideau was retried, convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter, and released in 2005.)
  • 2000: Smith v. United States, was resolved when President Clinton commuted the sentence of Kemba Smith. Smith was a young African-American mother whose abusive, domineering boyfriend led her to play a peripheral role (she did not sell drugs but was aware of the selling) in a conspiracy to obtain and distribute crack cocaine. She had been sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 24½ years in prison even though she was a first-time offender.
  • 2000: Cromartie v. Hunt and Daly v. Hunt, ruled that it is legal to create, for partisan political reasons, a district with a high concentration of minority voters; hence the North Carolina district from which Mel Watt was elected to the House of Representatives was ruled not to be an illegal gerrymander.
  • 2003: Gratz v. Bollinger, ordered the University of Michigan to change admission policies by removing racial quotas in the form of "points", but allowed them to continue to utilize race as a factor in admissions, to admit a diverse entering class of students.
  • 2007: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, the Supreme Court ruled racial quotas unconstitutional in PK–12 school assignment, but allowed other remedial school integration programs to continue[13]
  • 2009: Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Supreme Court ruled the Voting Rights Act Section 5 preclearance process constitutional. LDF presented oral argument at the Supreme Court on behalf of a group of African-American voters.[14]


  • 2010: Lewis v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the City of Chicago can be held accountable for each and every time it used a hiring practice that arbitrarily blocked qualified minority applicants from employment.[15]
  • 2013: Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, ending the Section 5 preclearance regime. LDF presented oral argument and represented a group of African-American voters in the Supreme Court.[16]
  • 2013: Fisher v. University of Texas, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action, and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for a second view. LDF represented the Black Student Alliance and the Black Ex-Students of Texas, Inc.[11]
  • 2014: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Michigan's Proposal 2 voter initiative, which amended the state's constitution to make affirmative action illegal in public employment, public education or public contracting purposes. LDF represented the Plaintiffs challenging Proposal 2.[11]
  • 2016: Fisher v. University of Texas II, Following the remand to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court again upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action. LDF represented the Black Student Alliance and the Black Ex-Students of Texas, Inc. in oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals and in an amicus brief in the Supreme Court.[17]
  • 2016: Veasey v. Abbott, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Texas's 2011 voter photo identification law violated the Voting Rights Act and that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Texas Legislature might have passed the law for the purpose of discriminating against Black and Latino voters. LDF presented oral argument in the Fifth Circuit on behalf of Black students and the Texas League of Young Voters.[18]
  • 2017: Buck v. Davis, the Supreme Court reversed the death sentence of Mr. Duane Buck because Mr. Buck's trial attorney introduced evidence that suggested Mr. Buck was more likely to commit violent acts in the future because he is black. LDF represented and presented oral argument on Mr. Buck's behalf in the Supreme Court.[11]
  • 2018: Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education and Gardendale Board of Education, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, blocked the City of Gardendale's attempt to secede from the larger Jefferson County school system because Gardendale's purpose was to create a mostly white school system separate from the more racially diverse Jefferson County schools. LDF represents and presented oral arguments on behalf of Black students opposed to the separation.[19]


  • 2020: NAACP LDF v. Barr, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to LDF and ruled that the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice violated multiple requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, halting the Commission's operations until it was brought into compliance with federal law.[20]
  • 2020: NAACP v. United States Postal Service, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the US Postal Service's widespread disruptions in mail delivery violated federal law and risked delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots — thereby causing voter disenfranchisement. On October 10, 2020, the court granted a preliminary injunction motion suspending service changes that had disrupted mail delivery. The court issued a series of additional orders leading up to the November 2020 General Election, which required the US Postal Service to take extraordinary measures to ensure the timely delivery of ballots and to provide daily updates about the delivery status of mail-in ballots. LDF represented the NAACP and individuals in the litigation.[21]

Prominent LDF alumni

A number of prominent attorneys have been affiliated with LDF over the years, including Barack Obama who was an LDF cooperating attorney.[2] The following, non-exhaustive list of LDF alumni demonstrates the breadth of positions these attorneys have held or currently hold in public service, the government, academia, the private sector, and other areas.


  1. ^ "Our Mission," section: "Our Mission" paragraph 1. NAACP LDF. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Transformative History of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  3. ^ "LDF@70: 70 Years of Fulfilling the Promise of Equality" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  4. ^ a b c d "NAACP v. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 753 F.2d 131 (D.C. Circuit 1985)". Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  5. ^ "Sherrilyn Ifill named head of NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund – theGrio". theGrio. 2001-11-30. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  6. ^ "History | NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  7. ^ a b "Biographies: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Teaching Judicial History,". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21.
  8. ^ a b Hooks (1979)
  9. ^ Tarter, Brent. "Aline Elizabeth Black (1906–1974)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d "NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  12. ^ ...
  13. ^, The official site provides a Flash-based history of the major cases taken on by LDF. This article has taken extensive portions of this page with the permission of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the copyright holder of that material.
  14. ^ "Supreme Court Ruling Leaves in Place Core Provision of the Voting Rights Act | NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder | NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  17. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Reaffirms the Importance of Diversity in College Admissions". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  18. ^ "LDF Applauds Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals En Banc Decision Finding Texas Voter ID Law Discriminatory | NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  19. ^ "LDF Applauds Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals En Banc Decision Finding Texas Voter ID Law Discriminatory". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  20. ^ "LDF v. Barr". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  21. ^ "LDF Files Agreement Requiring USPS to Implement Key Measures to Prioritize and Expedite Ballot Delivery in Georgia Runoff Election". NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  22. ^ "U.S. Senate Confirms EEOC Chair, Two Commissioners and General Counsel". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  23. ^ Shechet, Ellie (2018-11-02). "The Most Important Midterm Race is One You Haven't Heard About". Vice. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  24. ^ Robert L. Carter
  25. ^ Mississippi Freedom Summer
  26. ^ Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
  27. ^ 'Eric Holder In Profile,' Washington Post, November 18, 2008
  28. ^ 1997-Elaine Jones Archived 2009-05-15 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "The New York Times – Search". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  30. ^ "David Kendall – Williams & Connolly LLP". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  31. ^ Holmes, Steven A. "Asian-American Is Named To Top Civil Rights Position". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  32. ^ "Dennis D. Parker - National Center for Law and Economic Justice".
  33. ^ Weigel, David (2012-08-22). "Reince Priebus, The Least Interesting Man in the World". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  34. ^ "Theodore M. Shaw". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  35. ^ "LDF President Ted Shaw Joins Columbia Law Faculty". Columbia Law School. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  36. ^ "Columbia Law School : Full Time Faculty : Theodore M. Shaw". 1961-11-09. Archived from the original on 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  37. ^ "NAACP's Theodore Shaw to Discuss "The Continuing Struggle for Racial Justice"". Office of Communications. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  38. ^ "Meet the people behind the Innocence Project".
  39. ^ "MSNBC Public Relations on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  40. ^ Mueller, Benjamin (31 August 2017). "Chairwoman Steps Down at New York City Police Oversight Agency". The New York Times.

Further reading

  • Greenberg, Jack. "Crusaders in the Courts: Legal Battles of the Civil Rights Movement" (2004)
  • Hooks, Benjamin L. "Birth and Separation of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund," Crisis 1979 86(6): 218–220. 0011–1422
  • King, Gilbert "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America" (2012)
  • Mosnier, L. Joseph. Crafting Law in the Second Reconstruction: Julius Chambers, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Title VII. (2005).
  • Tauber, Steven C. "The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the U.S. Supreme Court's Racial Discrimination Decision Making," Social Science Quarterly 1999 80(2): 325–340.
  • Tauber, Steven C. "On Behalf of the Condemned? The Impact of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Capital Punishment Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals," Political Research Quarterly 1998 51(1): 191–219.
  • Tushnet, Mark V. Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936–1961 (1994)
  • Ware, Gilbert. "The NAACP-Inc. Fund Alliance: Its Strategy, Power, and Destruction," Journal of Negro Education 1994 63(3): 323–335. in JSTOR
  • Watkins, Steve. The Black O: Racism and Redemption in an American Corporate Empire (2013) specific to the 1993 Haynes v. Shoney's case. portions in Google Books

External links

This page was last edited on 29 August 2021, at 18:08
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