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N, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman

From: The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Kermit L. Hall

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Subscriber: null; date: 31 October 2020

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,

commonly known by its acronym NAACP, is the largest civil rights organization in the United States. Founded in 1909, the NAACP during its first two decades participated in a number of Supreme Court cases that expanded the rights of African-Americans. It submitted an *amicus brief in *Guinn v. United States. (1915), which overturned the use of the “*grandfather clause” to disfranchise black voters, and it successfully challenged residential segregation ordinances in *Buchanan v. Warley (1917). In *Moore v. Dempsey (1923), the Court ratified the association’s arguments that federal courts could intervene to protect the procedural rights of defendants who were tried in mob-dominated state proceedings.

The NAACP’s failure to wrest control of the Scottsboro cases from the International Labor Defense in 1931, however, exposed the organization’s lack of a comprehensive litigation strategy. In 1934 the association appointed Charles Hamilton *Houston, dean of Howard Law School, as the NAACP’s first full-time counsel. Houston advocated a unified approach to resolving the disparate problems associated with discrimination, segregation, and racial violence. The creation of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in 1939 further enhanced the organization’s ability to fashion a viable constitutional litigation strategy. Most of the association’s most famous legal victories, such as *Brown v. Board of Education (1954), were achieved by the LDF, but the NAACP retains its own legal staff and continues to pursue litigation, particularly through its coordinated system of state conferences and local branches.

The NAACP also seeks to influence the Supreme Court through political action. In 1930, the association played a pivotal role in defeating John J. *Parker’s nomination to the Court after it discovered that Parker had criticized political participation of African-Americans during the 1920 North Carolina gubernatorial campaign. Subsequently, the NAACP has opposed the appointments of Clement *Haynsworth, Harrold *Carswell, Robert *Bork, and Clarence *Thomas because of their positions regarding civil rights.

See also legal defense fund.

Eric W. Rise