(Baltimore, MD) – The NAACP mourns the loss of Judge Robert L. Carter, federal judge and General Counsel for the NAACP during Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and other landmark cases. In 2004, Carter earned the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. He passed away on January 3, 2012.
“We have lost a great attorney, educator, and advocate for civil rights,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “Robert Carter represented the NAACP’s values with courage and conviction. His remarkable intellect and enormous heart will be greatly missed.”
“Robert Carter helped develop the legal philosophy that has defined the NAACP for decades,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “He believed in equality not only in the public school system, but in every institution across this country. His long-term vision and tremendous success in the courtroom made him a legendary figure in the Association and in the nation as a whole.”
“Robert Carter has served as an inspiration for me and for so many of my colleagues who are passionate about social justice,” stated NAACP General Counsel Kim Keenan. “He leaves a legacy of success in the courtroom and a blueprint for a new generation of lawyers as social engineers."
Judge Carter joined the NAACP in 1944 as Legal Assistant to then-General Counsel Thurgood Marshall. He was appointed Assistant Special Counsel in 1945, during which time he was a chief architect and litigator in the Brown v. Board of Education case that led to the desegregation of the nation’s public schools. He helped devise the argument that public school segregation was unconstitutional on its face, an argument that the Supreme Court adopted which overturned years of precedent and challenged Jim Crow laws.
From 1956-1968, he served as NAACP General Counsel. During his time with the Association, Judge Carter won 25 of the 26 cases that he argued in the United States Supreme Court. He also formulated a plan to secure 501(c)(3) status for the NAACP Special Contribution Fund.
Following his time at the NAACP, Judge Carter served as United Stated District Judge for the Southern District of New York for nearly 40 years. During his time on the bench, he was influential in the state of New York, including overseeing the merger of the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association in the 1970’s.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.