Year
1967

Thurgood Marshall appointed to Supreme Court

President Lyndon Johnson appoints U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thurgood Marshall to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom C. Clark. On August 30, after a heated debate, the Senate confirmed Marshall’s nomination by a vote of 69 to 11. Two days later, he was sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren, making him the first African American in history to sit on America’s highest court.

The great-grandson of slaves, Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1908. In 1933, after studying under the tutelage of civil liberties lawyer Charles H. Houston, he received his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1936, he joined the legal division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), of which Houston was director, and two years later succeeded his mentor in the organization’s top legal post.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Pioneer 10 departs solar system

After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space. On March 2, 1972, the NASA spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a ...read more

Peasant army marches into London

During the Peasants’ Revolt, a large mob of English peasants led by Wat Tyler marches into London and begins burning and looting the city. Several government buildings were destroyed, prisoners were released, and a judge was beheaded along with several dozen other leading ...read more

Tutu meets with Botha

Bishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize for Peace, meets with South African President P.W. Botha to discuss the nationwide state of emergency declared by Botha in response to the anti-apartheid protests. “This is not likely to help restore law and order and peace and ...read more

Alexander the Great dies

Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian military genius who forged an empire stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to India, dies in Babylon, in present-day Iraq, at the age of 33. Born in Macedonia to King Phillip II and Queen Olympias, Alexander received a classical ...read more

The Miranda rights are established

On this day in 1966, the Supreme Court hands down its decision in Miranda v. Arizona, establishing the principle that all criminal suspects must be advised of their rights before interrogation. Now considered standard police procedure, “You have the right to remain silent. ...read more

Christy Matthewson throws second no-hitter

On June 13, 1905, pitcher Christy Matthewson of the New York Giants throws the second no-hitter of his career to lead his Giants to a 1-0 win over the powerful Chicago Cubs. Matthewson, known simply as “Matty” to his adoring fans, enjoyed a successful athletic career at Bucknell ...read more

Hurricane Agnes is born

On this day in 1972, severe weather conditions over the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico begin to converge and form a tropical depression that would become Hurricane Agnes over the next two weeks. By the time the storm dissipated, damages were in the billions and 121 people were ...read more

Jurors begin deliberations in Susan Polk trial

On June 13, 2006, jurors began deliberations in the trial of Susan Polk, 48, for the October 2002 murder of her psychotherapist husband Felix Polk, 70, in a poolside cottage at the couple’s Orinda, California, home. Felix was stabbed and cut 27 times and had suffered blunt force ...read more

Grant swings toward Petersburg

On this day, the bulk of the Army of the Potomac begins moving towards Petersburg, Virginia, precipitating a siege that lasted for more than nine months. From early May, the Union army hounded Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia as it tried to destroy the Confederates in ...read more