Constance Baker Motley

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Motley, Constance Baker

(1921–  ) lawyer, judge; born in New Haven, Conn. While a student at Columbia University (LL.B. 1946), she clerked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's legal defense and education fund, for which she worked full time (1946–65). While there, she successfully argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including those of James Meredith and Autherine Lucy. In 1964 she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the New York state senate; she became president of Manhattan Borough (1965–66). In 1966 she became the first black woman federal judge when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her to the U.S. District Court for the southern District of New York. From 1982–86 she served as chief judge, until becoming senior judge in 1986.