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Guinier, Lani 1950–

Lani Guinier 1950

Activist, lawyer, educator, writer

Identity Forged in New York City

Dedicated to Public Service

Ideas Inspired Controversy

A Late Defense

Emerged a Hero in Activism

Selected writings

Sources

Lani Guiniers moment in the history of American government was guaranteed when President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Justice Departments top civil rights post in 1993and then later withdrew her nomination, bowing to a hailstorm of controversy. An array of colliding circumstances led Guinier to lose her chance for confirmation to the post of assistant attorney general. However, Professor Guinier did go on to gain the recognition of a mainstream audience that for months had been largely ill-informed about her political theories. The process that destroyed her candidacy, wrote Ellis Cose in Newsweek in August of 1993, has given her a second chance.

Many of Guiniers detractors weakened her nomination by painting her as a proponent of hostile and divisive racial politics. Not only has Guinier pointed out that her writingsacademic articles published mostly in law journalsdo not support that characterization, but she has also noted that her personal history proves her to be an interracial coalition builder. The daughter of an African-American father and a Jewish mother, Guinier has several times told the press how deeply she values her parents marriage as a symbol of interracial understanding. Ive seen people of different races and different perspectives not only talk to each other but live with each other and raise a family, she told Cose.

The foundation for Guiniers commitment to racial equality was laid in the 1930s, years before she was even born. Her fathers scholarship to Harvard University was remanded once the administration discovered his racial heritage: the school had already admitted one black student on scholarship that year. Without the money to pay his bills, Ewart Guinier had to leave college; he became an elevator operator at the New York Times. That job allowed him to put himself through New Yorks City College. Still determined to become a lawyer, he also worked his way through New York University Law School. Decades later, in an ironic twist of fate, he was hired by Harvard University to chair the Afro-American Studies Department.

Identity Forged in New York City

Carol Lani Guinier was born in New York City on April 19, 1950. At the time, her father, still studying law, supported his family on real estate and insurance sales. Lani and her sisters attended public schools. An ambitious

At a Glance

Born Carol Lani Guinier on April 19,1950, in New York City; daughter of Ewart (a history professor) and Genii Guinier; married Nolan A. Bowie, 1986; children: Niklas. Education: B.A., Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1967-71; J.D., Yale University Law School, 1974.

Career: Worked as law clerk for Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Detroit, Ml, 1974-76; juvenile court referee, Wayne County Juvenile Court, Detroit, 1976-77; special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1977-81; assistant council to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 1981-88; adjunct professor, New York University School of Law, 1985-89; law professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1988-; nominated by President Clinton for post of assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, April 29,1993; nomination withdrawn, June 3, 1993; appointed tenured professor, Harvard Law School, 1998.

Awards: Outstanding service awards, U.S. Department of Justice, 1978, 1979, and 1980; honorary degree from University of Pennsylvania, 1992; the Crisis Torch of Courage Award, NAACP Convention, 1993; Champion of Democracy Award, Center for Voting and Democracy, 1993; Chauncy Eskridge Distinguished Barrister Award, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1993; Congressional Black Caucus Chairmans Award, 1993; Rosa Parks Award, American Association of Affirmative Action 1994; Harvey Levin Teaching Award, 1994; Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, 1995; Champion of Democracy Award, National Womens Political Caucus, 1995; Big Sisters Award, 1999.

Addresses: Office Harvard Law School, 1563 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617)495-5100.

student, Lani eventually graduated third in a class of over 1,000 at Andrew Jackson High School. Her community provided another important aspect of her education; in this culturally rich, urban milieu, she learned to value African-American identity and solidarity. I always told her that she was an Afro-American woman, Genii Guinier, Lanis mother, explained to Roger Wilkins in Esquire. My parents wanted her to have a deeper sense of her Polish, Jewish, and Russian heritage, but I thought Afro-American was the strongest rooting for her. She further noted: I helped initiate an Afro-American studies program in Queens, and I insisted that she participate, almost like learning about religion. I wanted her to gain an appreciation of the studies of black people of the past and the beauty of black people. Guinier later wrote in the New York Times Magazine that her personal identity as a black woman was forged in the working-class neighborhood of St. Albans and in the crucible of New York City public schools.

Another impressive moment in Lanis young life occurred while she was watching television: she witnessed the civil rights lawyer, Constance Baker Motley (who argued the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education with Thurgood Marshall), escort James Meredith to class at the University of Mississippi in 1962. The indelible image was that of a young black student, accompanied by his lawyer, walking through a hostile white crowd.

By the time Guinier graduated from high school, Harvard had improved its admissions policy regarding black students, and she was admitted to Harvard-Radcliffe College with a scholarship in 1967. (Her father was then working for Columbia University.) While maintaining academic excellence, Guinier became involved in activism, supporting the then-new bill that would eventually become the heart of her career: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite the century-earlier abolition of slavery, deeprooted racism still kept African Americans from participating as full citizens in the political process. This injustice took the form of tricky rules that often made it impossible for people of color to register to vote, particularly in the South. Consequently, the Voting Rights Act became central to the civil rights movement. As soon as I started on voting rights, Guinier told Wilkins, I knew thats what I wanted. Its not that I think Im going to change the world, but I can do lawyers work and the work of a sociologist. When you do voting rights you know the community and you become kind of an organizer.

Already dedicated to aiding the realization of political equity, Guinier decided to pursue a law degree at Yale Law School. There she made friends with two fellow studentsfuture President Bill Clinton and future First Lady Hillary Rodhamwho 20 years later would alter the path of Guiniers career. Upon finishing her law degree in 1974, Guinier began a highly promising career in public service. Her skill and dedication made her instantly desirable to potential employers: She did so well, wrote David Von Drehle in the Washington Post, that two federal judges wound up fighting over the chance to have her as a law clerk.

Dedicated to Public Service

Judge Damon Keith won the battle for her services, and Guinier clerked for him in Detroit from 1974 to 1976. Finding that she loved the city, she took a position toward the end of her clerkship as juvenile court referee at Michigans Wayne County Juvenile Court. It was not until 1977 that she was drawn to Washington, D.C. The opportunity to serve with Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justicethe very position for which she would be nominated 15 years laterallowed her to begin working on the federal level and brought her back to the issue that had motivated her career: voting rights and political equity. For four years, she worked with Days to make certain that state and local governments respected the intent of the Voting Rights Act.

When the civil rights-friendly administration of President Jimmy Carter was voted out of office in the early 1980s, Republican president Ronald Reagan revamped the Justice Department. Guinier found herself a political outsider, having to fight to maintain the ground gained by the previous administration and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She took a position with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, becoming one of their most valuable litigators: she won 31 out of the 32 cases that she argued. Guinier was also known for her ability to hold a diplomatic middleground between conservative and liberal extremes. Wilkins recalled that as legislative pressures mounted and tempers got shorter, Guinier, one of the youngest players in the game was the person best able to bridge the gap between the two camps.

In 1988 the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania offered Guinier the opportunity to engage in the American political system at a very different level. As a professor, she would be responsible for teaching law in the classroom and for contributing to the ever-shifting shape of political thought. Guinier told David Garrow in an interview for the Progressive that the academic world offered her the opportunity to step out of the shoes of a litigator and into the shoes of a more reflective scholar.

Guinier explained in the New York Times Magazine: My scholarly project as a law professor had been to answer the question raised by the cases I had litigated. In particular, she asked, Why is it that in many city and county governing bodies, especially in the South, the interests of blacks still often lose? I wrote as a legal scholar about ways to remedy racial discrimination; I also wrote as a political theorist. Inspired by the work of [American founding father and fourth president] James Madison, I explored ways to insure that even a selfinterested majority could work with, rather than tyrannize, a minority. As a matter of political philosophy, I imagined a more consensual, deliberative and participatory democracy for all voters, despite religious, political, racial or sex differences.

The critique of a majority tyrannythe very point that would later make her Justice Department nomination so controversialconstituted the heart of her political thought; she explained it in the same article: My point is simple: 51 percent of the people should not always get 100 percent of the power; 51 percent of the people should certainly not get all the power if they use that power to exclude the 49 percent. In that case we do not have majority rule. We have majority tyranny.

On April 29, 1993, President Clinton called on his old law school friend to assume the post of assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. Her writings were soon seized upon by members of the political right wing, who feared her ideas were too radical. I was unprepared for the vehemence of this critical avalanche, Guinier wrote in the New York Times Magazine. Within the academic world, my articles had not been controversial. They had been widely circulated and warmly received even by dissenting conservative scholars who had substantive, legitimate disagreements with my ideas but nevertheless respected my efforts.

Ideas Inspired Controversy

Karen Branan, writing for Ms., suggested that there were people lying in wait to criticize [Guiniers] writings. The driving force behind those people was former civil servant Clint Bolick. In a piece on Bolick for the Washington Post, Michael Isikoff reported, Working out of a small suite of offices across the street from the Justice Department, Bolick and colleague Chip Mellor became what they call information central for the Guinier battle, [distributing] more than 100 copies of her articles to key Senate staff aides, journalists, editorial writers and other opinion leaders. They also produced a drumbeat of press releases, reports and op-ed articles that portrayed the law professor as a pro-quota, left-wing extremist bent on undermining democratic principles.

Bolick and another editorialist for the Wall Street Journal led the attack with their editorial pieces immediately after Guiniers nomination. Other columnists joined in, remarked Bob Cohn in Newsweek, and by the middle of May, the view of Lani Guinier as a radical leftist hardened beyond repair. Some critics have hinted that Bolick instigated in late April this characterization of Guinier as crazy, twisting her ideas into an image of racial separatism and dubbing her one of Clintons Quota Queens. Having misinterpreted her scholarly writings, he warned readers that she would graft onto the existing system a complex racial spoils system that would further polarize an already divided nation. Around the same time, conservative commentator George F. Will wrote in Newsweek that Guiniers ideas are extreme, undemocratic and anti-constitutional. Meanwhile, Paul Gigot, another Wall Street Journal editorialist, wholly dismissed the substance of Guiniers work when he referred to her exotic views and suggested that her nomination resulted from being a friend of Hillarys.

The onslaught was having its effect, influencing the opinions of the general public and several U.S. senatorsthe people who would be responsible for confirming or overturning the presidents nomination. With Guiniers confirmation hearings still at least a month away, minds were already being made up. Orrin Hatch, a conservative senator from Utah, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, She is an architect of a theory of racial preferences that if enacted would push America down the road of racial balkanization. Two pieces in the New Republic explicitly demanded that the president withdraw the nomination, based not on her skillsWe do not doubt Guiniers competence, one editorialist pointed outbut on the deeply entrenched misrepresentation of her ideas: She is a firm believer in the racial analysis of an irreducible, racial us and them in American society.

A Late Defense

Interviewed by Von Drehle in the Washington Post, Professor Randall Kennedy summed up this misuse of Guiniers articles as one of the most vivid examples of the dumbing of American politics Ive ever seen. T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Richard H. Pildes, two University of Michigan law professors, wrote a protest in the Wall Street Journal, reminding readers that the complexity of the problems and the seriousness of her scholarship have been lost in the caricatures of her views. Aleinikoff and Pildes also countered the characterization of Guinier as a promoter of racial division, informing readers that all her writing has been explicitly motivated by a search for consensus-building strategies conducive to interracial coalitions that avoid racial stereotypes or quotas.

By late May of 1993, Guinier had garnered support from additional sources. Bruce Shapiro argued in a Nation editorial that her writings in fact amount to an eloquent plea against electoral quotas, and added, Guinier advocates a profoundly democratic solution to the perpetual racism and corruption of local electoral districting. A New York Times reporter tried to shed some light on the political implications of the Guinier case, explaining, Guiniers supporters say her words are being caricatured by people who are hostile to civil rights and by Republicans who are looking to embarrass the President. Another writer in the Nation theorized that the nomination controversy [painted] even modest civil rights activism as dangerously radical.

Guiniers critics consolidated the conservative political right and apparently panicked the political center. By the third week in May, Branan recalled in Ms., a number of senators, Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal, all white and all male, had publicly voiced their criticisms. Within a month of the nomination, the American media were telling the public that Guinier was dangerous.

The damage might have been less extensive if President Clinton had not required Guinier to be silent in the face of the onslaught. Although nominees to such high posts in the U.S. government typically anticipate their confirmation hearings with media interviews and visits to members of Congress, the Clinton administration had instructed Guinier to wait for the hearings before speaking to anyone. James Coleman, Guiniers colleague, described the situation for Branan: The White House adopted a policy that no nominees should talk to the press. Essentially they gagged Lani in a situation where she was being demonized every day in the press. Guinier told Garrow in the Progressive that she was concerned from the very beginning. I was not interested in waiting to find out whether people would buy into this. My position was that it was important to respond and respond immediately. But the policy seemed to have doomed Guiniers nomination even before the hearing could take place.

When the defense finally came, forces that had been held back by the administrations policy were allowed to go to work. Branan reported that Guinier called on her volunteer network of accomplished attorneys around the country to prepare press packets and write op-ed pieces countering the charges against her. Eddie Correia, a law professor who escorted Guinier on her few and belated Senate visits, told Branan in Ms. that if Guinier had been allowed a hearing, he had no doubt shed have been able to turn things around.

In spite of weeks of confusion compounded by frenzied media coverage, political engineering, and stilted communication, Guinier was able to win the admiration of previously skeptical senators and save her ideas from oversimplification in the media. For a few brief days, Branan wrote, the tide was turning. Her views were being explained, she was being vindicated, and calls were coming in to the White House and to Senate offices, demanding she be allowed a fair hearing. The issue was no longer how she would be treated in her confirmation hearings, but whether the president would even let her make it to the hearings. She was eager for the opportunity to be directly questioned and to explain her ideas. Many of her supporters believed that a Nightline interview on June 2, 1993, had saved the nomination; the next day, the White House was flooded with supportive calls. Yet, at this point, President Clinton remained unconvinced. Guinier recalled in the New York Times Magazine, A distracted White House with no public relations strategy had enabled my opponents not only to define me, but to stir up fears about me as a person. Now the President was reinforcing those images with his choice of language. In this odd world of real life, misperception had become reality. Washington Post reporter Isikoff described June 2, the day of Guiniers well-received Nightline interview, as a day in which Clinton publicly distanced himself from his controversial nominee. He withdrew her nomination on the next day.

Eleanor Clift reported in Newsweek that Clintons unwillingness to stand by [Guinier] stirred a revolt among the 39-member black caucus in the House and an outcry from a parade of traditional Democratic interest groups. On June 4, 1993, 120 demonstrators gathered outside the White House to protest. In the short term, Clift concluded, abandoning Guinier [seemed] less like a shrewd move than a Clintonesque cave in to conservative pressure.

Emerged a Hero in Activism

Besieged by speaking requests from college students, bar associations, and community groups, Guinier wrote in the New York Times Magazine, I seized the chance to move beyond my personal hurt to a discussion of my ideas. With several book contracts in the works, including the 1994 Free Press publication of The Tyranny of the Majority and another volume planned for the fall of 1995, Guinier took advantage of as many opportunities as possible to share her ideas and her experiences. Describing a run of her speaking engagements in August, Ellis Cose reported, On each occasion she has advocated political empowerment of minorities, but the heart of her message is about interracial harmony. New York Times reporter Stephen Labaton announced that Guinier had emerged from her failed nomination as an influential voice and a newfound hero.

Branan concluded that the entire nomination and withdrawal process by stating, Already she has become an icon for the civil rights community. In her New York Times Magazine article, however, Guinier warned that there was still a lingering danger from the attack on her nomination: The word quota remains an epithet for any messenger who dares to report the bad news about our existing racial situation. I was punished as the messenger, but we have not resolved how to handle the message: how do we make sure the rules enable everyone to play?

Guinier wants to modify the way in which individuals, groups, and organizations enter into discussions, particularly regarding issues that often provoke anger and misunderstanding, such as race, ethnicity, and gender. In an interview with Lisa Funderburg for African American Review, Guinier explained, that the current, war/sports model, where only one side wins or only one is left standing, does not bring about any real change. People who hold public policy positions, along with the media, should set forward thinking and positive examples instead of prevalent slash and burn tactics.

In 1996, Guinier helped found a non-profit organization, Commonplace, whose focus was to create a dialogue between the media and academic sectors on issues regarding race. Guinier hoped to devise a method of communication by testing two hypotheses about overcoming racially motivated obstacles to productive dialogue. The first hypothesis was that people will be encouraged to talk about race if they are given a task that cannot be placed in a racial context. The second hypothesis was that people will trust each other if racial stereotypes are successfully confronted, exaggerated, and undermined. We then want to apply that methodology to public conversations that involve people in the media, public policy activists, to structure conversations so that the journalists can learn how to see nuance and the academics can learn how to be more clear. By using a structured dialogue, people can learn how to avoid using polarizing comments. Guinier wanted to demonstrate how divisive language can be, that words are used as weapons rather than as instruments to facilitate understanding. Guinier believes that successful dialogue is a process; that people need time to express themselves, to listen to others, to reflect, to respond, and to have the opportunity to clarify which is difficult to attain in our sound-bite culture.

Since her appointment at Harvard, Guinier has collaborated on several publications. In 1997, Guinier co-authored, with Michelle Fine and Jane Balin, Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change, which discusses the fact that, as Patricia Novotny wrote for Signs in a book review, Despite the increased presence of women, the profession seems to have changed very little The authors also address the mission of law schools in the United States, stating that the schools do a great job preparing new lawyers to serve the wealthy but fail in educating diverse students democratically and critically about the practices and possibilities of law for all people.

In her book, Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback Into New Vision of Social Justice, Guinier described her methods of coping with her nomination withdrawal and the negative media attention she received. In an article in Jet, she conceded that Clinton actually did her a favor because she was forced to find her true voice and discover her strength, which is in speaking out with innovative ideas about how to change things that are unfair and make it better for everybody. In 1998 Lani Guinier joined the faculty at Harvard Law School the first black woman to attain a tenured professorship.

In Whos Qualified, Guinier and colleague Susan Sturm discuss the ways in which educational institutions and jobs can create a system of equal opportunity and address issues such as affirmative action, testing, and entrance examinations. Using her own experience with turning a crisis into an opportunity, Guinier spoke out about the 2000 election and the fiasco in the state of Florida. In an article in Nations Cities Weekly, by Cyndy Liedtke Hogan, Guinier said, By highlighting our wretched record on voting practices, Florida is doing us a favor because it is raising the obvious question what should we be doing if we really want voters to vote. In a statement that reveals Guiniers essence, After all, democracy takes place when the silenced find a voice and when we begin to listen to what they have to say.

Selected writings

(With Drew S. Days) Enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, in Minority Vote Dilution, edited by Chandler Davidson, Howard University Press, 1984.

Voting Rights and Democratic Theory: Where Do We Go from Here? in Controversies in Minority Voting: A Twenty-five Year Perspective on the Voting Rights Act, edited by Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman, Brookings, 1992.

The Representation of Minority Interests: The Question of Single-Member Districts, in Race, Ethnicity, Representation and Governance,

The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy, The Free Press, 1994.

(With Michelle Fine and Jane Balin) Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change, Beacon, 1997.

Lift Every Voice: Turning A Civil Rights Setback Into A New Vision Of Social Justice, Simon and Schuster, 1998.

(With Susan Sturm) Whos Qualified, Beacon, 2000.

Contributor to scholarly journals, including Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, University of Michigan Law Review, Berkeley Womens Law Journal Annual, University of Virginia Law Review, Texas Law Review, and Pennsylvania Law Review.

Sources

African American Review, Summer 1996, p. 197-98.

Emerge, July/August 1993, p. 11; April 1994, p. 59.

Esquire, December 1984, pp. 488-92.

Essence, August 1993, p. 116.

Jet, May 2, 1994, pp. 8-9; February 16, 1998, p. 26; June 22, 1998, p. 27.

Ms., September/October 1993, pp. 50-7.

Nation, May 31, 1993, pp. 724-25; June 21, 1993, pp. 855-56.

Nations Cities Weekly, Dec. 18, 2000, p. 11.

New Republic, June 14, 1993, pp. 7, 16-9.

Newsweek, May 24, 1993, p. 67; June 14, 1993, pp. 24-8, 78; August 23, 1993, p. 25; March 14, 1994, p. 57.

New Yorker, June 14, 1993, pp. 4, 6. New York Times, May 5, 1993, p. A-19; May 21, 1993, p. B-9; May 23, 1993, section 4, p. 14; July 14, 1993, p. A-12; October 19, 1993, p. A-29.

New York Times Book Review, March 13, 1994, pp. 6-7.

New York Times Magazine, February 27, 1994, pp. 40-4, 54-5, 66.

People Weekly, July 13, 1998, p. 115.

Progressive, September 1993, pp. 28-32.

PR Newswire, December 16, 1999, p. 32-3.

Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1993, p. 7; May 21, 2001, p. 88.

Time, April 25, 1994, p. 43.

Signs, Winter 2001, p. 565.

Wall Street Journal, April 30, 1993, p. A-12; May 3, 1993, p. A-16; May 7, 1993, p. A-14; May 13, 1993, p. A-15; May 27, 1993, p. B-2; June 2, 1993, p. A-15.

Washington Post, May 21, 1993, p. A-23; May 25, 1993, p. A-19; May 28, 1993, p. A-4; June 3, 1993, p. A-l; June 4, 1993, p. A-10; June 4, 1993, p. C-1; June 5, 1993, p. A-10; June 6, 1993, p. A-11.

Other

Additional information for this profile was taken from a Now television interview, broadcast on NBC-TV, March 16, 1993.

Ondine E. Le Blanc and Christine Miner Minderovic

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Guinier, Lani 1950–

Lani Guinier 1950

Activist, lawyer, educator, writer

Identity Forged in New York City

Dedicated to Public Service

Ideas Inspired Controversy

A Late Defense

Emerged a Hero in Activism

Selected writings

Sources

Law professor Lani Guiniers moment in the history of American government was guaranteed when President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Justice Departments top civil rights post in 1993and then later withdrew her nomination, bowing to a hailstorm of controversy. An array of colliding circumstances led her to lose her chance for confirmation to the post of assistant attorney general. However, Professor Guinier did go on to gain the recognition of a mainstream audience that for months had been largely ill-informed about her political theories. The process that destroyed her candidacy, wrote Ellis Cose in Newsweek in August of 1993, has given her a second chance.

Many of Guiniers detractors weakened her nomination by painting her as a proponent of hostile and divisive racial politics. Not only has Guinier pointed out that her writingsacademic articles published mostly in law journalsdo not support that characterization, but she has also noted that her personal history proves her to be an interracial coalition builder. The daughter of an African American father and a Jewish mother, Guinier has several times told the press how deeply she values her parents marriage as a symbol of interracial understanding. Ive seen people of different races and different perspectives not only talk to each other but live with each other and raise a family, she told Cose.

The foundation for her commitment to racial equality was laid in the 1930s, years before she was even born. Her fathers scholarship to Harvard University was remanded once the administration discovered his racial heritage: the school had already admitted one black student on scholarship that year. Without the money to pay his bills, Ewart Guinier had to leave college; he became an elevator operator at the New York Times. That job allowed him to put himself through New Yorks City College. Still determined to become a lawyer, he also worked his way through New York University Law School. Decades later, in an ironic twist of fate, he was hired by Harvard University to chair the Afro-American Studies Department.

Identity Forged in New York City

Carol Lani Guinier was born in New York City on April 19, 1950. At the time, her father, still studying law, supported his family on real estate and insurance sales. Lani and her

At a Glance

Born Carol Lani Guinier, April 19, 1950, in New York City; daughter of Ewart (a history professor) and Genii Guinier; married Nolan A. Bowie, 1986; children: Niklas. Education: Attended Harvard-Rad-cliffe College, 1967-71; Yale University Law School, J.D., 1974.

Worked as law clerk for Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Detroit, Ml.1974-76; juvenile court referee, Wayne County Juvenile Court, Detroit, 1976-77; special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1977-81; assistant council to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 1981-88; adjunct professor, New York University School of Law, 1985-89; law professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1988; nominated by President Clinton for post of assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, April 29, 1993; nomination withdrawn, June 3, 1993.

Awards: Outstanding service awards, U.S. Department of Justice, 1978, 1979, and 1980; honorary degree from University of Pennsylvania, 1992; the Crisis Torch of Courage Award, NAACP Convention, 1993; Champion of Democracy Award, Center for Voting and Democracy, 1993; Chauncy Eskridge Distinguished Barrister Award, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1993; Congressional Black Caucus Chairmans Award, 1993.

Addresses: Office Universily of Pennsylvania Law School, 3400 Chestut Si., Philadelphia, PA 19104; or c/o The Free Press, 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022.

sisters attended public schools. An ambitious student, Lani eventually graduated third in a class of over 1,000 at Andrew Jackson High School. Her community provided another important aspect of her education; in this culturally rich, urban milieu, she learned to value African American identity and solidarity. I always told her that she was an Afro-American woman, Genii Guinier, Lanis mother, explained to Roger Wükins in Esquire. My parents wanted her to have a deeper sense of her Polish, Jewish, and Russian heritage, but I thought Afro-American was the strongest rooting for her.; She further noted: I helped initiate an Afro-American studies program in Queens, and I insisted that she participate, almost like learning about religion. I wanted her to gain an appreciation of the studies of black people of the past and the beauty of black people. Guinier later wrote in the New York Times Magazine that her personal identity as a black woman was forged in the working-class neighborhood of St. Albans and in the crucible of New York City public schools.

While maintaining her excellence as a student, Guinier also became involved in activism, supporting the then-new bill that would eventually become the heart of her career: the Voting Rights Act of 1965. By the time Guinier graduated from high school, Harvard had improved its admissions policy regarding black students, and she was admitted to Harvard-Radcliffe College with a scholarship in 1967. (Her father was then working for Columbia University.)

Despite the abolition of slavery that had taken place 100 years before, deep-rooted racism still kept African Americans from participating as full citizens in the political process. This took the form of tricky rules that often made it impossible for people of color to register to vote, particularly in the South. Consequently, the Voting Rights Act became central to the civil rights movement. As soon as I started on voting rights, Guinier told Wilkins, I knew thats what 1 wanted. Its not that I think Im going to change the world, but I can do lawyers work and the work of a sociologist. When you do voting rights you know the community and you become kind of an organizer.

Already dedicated to aiding the realization of true social equity in the U.S. political system, Guinier decided to pursue a law degree at Yale Law School. There she made friends with two fellow studentsfuture President Bill Clinton and future First Lady Hillary Rodhamwho 20 years later would alter the path of her career.

Upon finishing her degree in 1974, Guinier began a highly promising career in public service. Her skill and dedication made her instantly desirable to potential employers: She did so well, wrote David Von Drehle in the Washington Post, that two federal judges wound up fighting over the chance to have her as a law clerk.

Dedicated to Public Service

Judge Damon Keith won the battle for her services, and Guinier clerked for him in Detroit from 1974 to 1976. Finding that she loved the city, she took a position as juvenile court referee at Michigans Wayne County Juvenile Court toward the end of her clerkship. It wasnt until 1977 that she was drawn to Washington, D.C. The opportunity to serve with Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justicethe very position for which she would be nominated 15 years laternot only allowed her to begin working on the federal level, but also brought her back to the issue that had motivated her career: voting rights and political equity. For four years, she worked with Days to make certain that state and local governments respected the intent of the Voting Rights Act.

When the civil rights-friendly administration of President Jimmy Carter was voted out of office in the early 1980s, Republican president Ronald Reagan revamped the Justice Department. Guinier found herself a political outsider, having to fight to maintain the ground that the previous administration and the civil rights movement of the 1960s had made regarding racial equity. In order to do so, she took a position with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, becoming one of their most valuable litigators: she won 31 out of the 32 cases that she argued. Guinier was also known for her ability to hold a diplomatic middle-ground between conservative and liberal extremes. Wilkins recalled that as legislative pressures mounted and tempers got shorter, Guinier, one of the youngest players in the game was the person best able to bridge the gap between the two camps.

In 1988 the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania offered Guinier the opportunity to engage in the American political system at a very different level. As a professor, she would be responsible for teaching law in the classroom and for contributing to the ever-shifting shape of political thought, rather than attempting to enforce law in court. Guinier told David Garrow in an interview for the Progressive that the academic world offered her the opportunity to step out of the shoes of a litigator and into the shoes of a more reflective scholar.

Guinier explained in the New York Times Magazine: My scholarly project as a law professor had been to answer the question raised by the cases I had litigated. In particular, she asked, Why is it that in many city and county governing bodies, especially in the South, the interests of blacks still often lose? I wrote as a legal scholar about ways to remedy racial discrimination; I also wrote as a political theorist. Inspired by the work of [American founding father and fourth president] James Madison, I explored ways to insure that even a self-interested majority could work with, rather than tyrannize, a minority. As a matter of political philosophy, I imagined a more consensual, deliberative and participatory democracy for all voters, despite religious, political, racial or sex differences.

Her critique of a majority tyrannythe very point that would later make her Justice Department nomination so controversialconstituted the heart of her political thought; she explained it in the same article: My point is simple: 51 percent of the people should not always get 100 percent of the power; 51 percent of the people should certainly not get all the power if they use that power to exclude the 49 percent. In that case we do not have majority rule. We have majority tyranny.

On April 29, 1993, President Clinton called on his old law school friend to assume the post of assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. Her writings were soon seized upon by members of the political right wing, who feared her ideas were too radical. I was unprepared for the vehemence of this critical avalanche, Guinier wrote in the New York Times Magazine. Within the academic world, my articles had not been controversial. They had been widely circulated and warmly received even by dissenting conservative scholars who had substantive, legitimate disagreements with my ideas but nevertheless respected my efforts.

Ideas Inspired Controversy

Karen Branan, writing for Ms., suggested that there were people lying in wait to criticize [Guiniers] writings. The driving force behind those people was former civil servant Clint Bolick. In a piece on Bolick for the Washington Post, Michael Isikoff reported, Working out of a small suite of offices across the street from the Justice Department, Bolick and colleague Chip Mellor became what they call information central for the Guinier battle, [distributing] more than 100 copies of her articles to key Senate staff aides, journalists, editorial writers and other opinion leaders. They also produced a drumbeat of press releases, reports and op-ed articles that portrayed the law professor as a pro-quota, left-wing extremist bent on undermining democratic principles.

Bolick and another editorialist for the Wall Street Journal led the attack with their editorial pieces immediately after Guiniers nomination. Other columnists joined in, remarked Bob Cohn in Newsweek, and by the middle of May, the view of Lani Guinier as a radical leftist hardened beyond repair. Before it was over, wrote Branan, shed be called Loony Lani by the New York City tabloids and the Vicar of Victimization and the Czarina of Czeparatism. Some critics have hinted that Bolick instigated this characterization of Guinier in late April, twisting her ideas into an image of racial separatism and dubbing her one of Clintons Quota Queens. Having misinterpreted her scholarly writings, he warned readers that she would graft onto the existing system a complexracial spoils system that would further polarize an already divided nation. Around the same time, conservative commentator George F. Will wrote in Newsweek that Guiniers ideas are extreme, undemocratic and anticon-stitutional. Meanwhile, Paul Gigot, another Wall Street Journal editorialist, wholly dismissed the substance of Guiniers work when he referred to her exotic views and suggested that her nomination resulted from being a friend of Hillarys.

The onslaught was having its effect, influencing the opinions of the general public and several U.S. senators the people who would be responsible for confirming or overturning the presidents nomination. With Guiniers confirmation hearings still at least a month away, minds were already being made up. Orrin Hatch, a conservative senator from Utah, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, She is an architect of a theory of racial preferences that if enacted would push America down the road of racial balkanization.

Two pieces in the New Republic explicitly demanded that the president withdraw the nomination, based not on her skills We do not doubt Guiniers competence, one editorialist pointed outbut on the deeply entrenched misrepresentation of her ideas: She is a firm believer in the racial analysis of an irreducible, racial us and them in American society.

A Late Defense

Interviewed by Von Drehle in the Washington Post, Professor Randall Kennedy summed up this misuse of Guiniers articles as one of the most vivid examples of the dumbing of American politics Ive ever seen. T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Richard H. Pildes, two University of Michigan law professors, wrote a protest in the Wall Street Journal, reminding readers that the complexity of the problems and the seriousness of her scholarship have been lost in the caricatures of her views. Aleinikoff and Pildes also countered the characterization of Guinier as a promoter of racial division, informing readers that all her writing has been explicitly motivated by a search for consensus-building strategies conducive to interracial coalitions that avoid racial stereotypes or quotas.

By late May of 1993, Guinier had garnered support from additional sources. Bruce Shapiro argued in a Nation editorial that her writings in fact amount to an eloquent plea against electoral quotas, and added, Guinier advocates a profoundly democratic solution to the perpetual racism and corruption of local electoral districting. A New York Times reporter tried to shed some light on the political implications of the Guinier case, explaining, Guiniers supporters say her words are being caricatured by people who are hostile to civil rights and by Republicans who are looking to embarrass the President. Another writer in the Nation theorized that the nomination controversy [painted] even modest civil rights activism as dangerously radical.

Guiniers critics consolidated the conservative political right and apparently panicked the political center. By the third week in May, Branan recalled in Ms., a number of senators, Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal, all white and all male, had publicly voiced their criticisms. Within a month of the nomination, the American media was telling the public that Guinier was dangerous.

The damage might have been less extensive if President Clinton had not required Guinier to be silent in the face of the onslaught. Although nominees to such high posts in the U.S. government typically anticipate their confirmation hearings with media interviews and visits to members of Congress, the Clinton administration had instructed Guinier to wait for the hearings before speaking to anyone. James Coleman, Guiniers colleague, described the situation for Branan: The White House adopted a policy that no nominees should talk to the press. Essentially they gagged Lani in a situation where she was being demonized every day in the press. They said you cant say anything. And they didnt either. Guinier told Garrow in the Progressive that she was concerned from the very beginning. I was not interested in waiting to find out whether people would buy into this. My position was that it was important to respond and respond immediately. But the policy seemed to have doomed Guiniers nomination even before the hearing could take place.

When the defense finally came, forces that had been held back by the administrations policy were allowed to go to work. Branan reported that Guinier called on her volunteer network of accomplished attorneys around the country to prepare press packets and write op-ed pieces countering the charges against her. Eddie Correia, a law professor who escorted Guinier on her few and belated Senate visits, told Branan in Ms. that if Guinier had been allowed a hearing, he had no doubt shed have been able to turn things around.

In spite of weeks of confusion compounded by frenzied media coverage, political engineering, and stilted communication, Guinier was able to win the admiration of previously skeptical senators and save her ideas from oversimplification in the media. I knew that face-to-face meetings with senators were crucial, Guinier noted in the New York Times Magazine. [They] had to be pushed past stereotypes just like other Americansblack and white. I was confident that I could, through direct eye contact and the unflinching candor for which I was known, take advantage of a personal encounter to become more than a cartoon character.

For a few brief days, Branan wrote, the tide was turning. Her views were being explained, she was being vindicated, and calls were coming in to the White House and to Senate offices, demanding she be allowed a fair hearing. The issue was no longer how she would be treated in her confirmation hearings, but whether the president would even let her make it to the hearings. She was eager for the opportunity to be directly questioned and to explain her ideas. Many of her supporters believed that a Nightline interview on June 2, 1993, had saved the nomination; the next day, the White House was flooded with supportive calls. Yet, at this point, President Clinton remained unconvinced.

Guinier recalled in the New York Times Magazine, A distracted White House with no public relations strategy had enabled my opponents not only to define me, but to stir up fears about me as a person. Now the President was reinforcing those images with his choice of language. In this odd world of real life, misperception had become reality. Washington Post reporter Isikoff described June 2, the day of Guiniers well-received Nightline interview, as a day in which Clinton publicly distanced himself from his controversial nominee. He withdrew her nomination on June 3.

Eleanor Clift reported in Newsweek that Clintons unwillingness to stand by [Guinier] stirred a revolt among the 39-member black caucus in the House and an outcry from a parade of traditional Democratic interest groups. On June 4, 1993, 120 demonstrators gathered outside the White House to protest. In the short term, Clift concluded, abandoning Guinier [seemed] less like a shrewd move than a Clintonesque cave in to conservative pressure. Similarly, Colbert King charged in the Washington Post that Mr. Clinton should hang his head in shame for cutting and running on Lani Guinier.

Emerged a Hero in Activism

Besieged by speaking requests from college students, bar associations, and community groups, Guinier wrote in the New York Times Magazine, I seized the chance to move beyond my personal hurt to a discussion of my ideas. With several book contracts in the works, including the 1994 Free Press publication of The Tyranny of the Majority and another volume planned for the fall of 1995, Guinier took advantage of as many opportunities as possible to share her ideas and her experiences. Describing a run of her speaking engagements in August, Ellis Cose reported, On each occasion she has advocated political empowerment of minorities, but the heart of her message is about interracial harmony. New York Times reporter Stephen Labaton announced that Guinier had emerged from her failed nomination as an influential voice and a newfound heroinspiring thousands of delegates at the NAACPs 1993 conference to chant Lani! Lani! Lani! upon her introduction at the annual event, while an organist played excerpts from The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Branan concluded that the entire nomination and withdrawal process only heightened [Guiniers] sense of mission, adding, Already she has become an icon for the civil rights community. In her New York Times Magazine article, however, Guinier warned that there was still a lingering danger from the attack on her nomination: The word quota remains an epithet for any messenger who dares to report the bad news about our existing racial situation. I was punished as the messenger, but we have not resolved how to handle the message: how do we make sure the rules enable everyone to play?

Selected writings

(With Drew S. Days) Enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, in Minority Vote Dilution, edited by Chandler Davidson, Howard University Press, 1984.

Voting Rights and Democratic Theory: Where Do We Go from Here? in Controversies in Minority Voting: A Twenty-five Year Perspective on the Voting Rights Act, edited by Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grof-man, Brookings, 1992.

The Representation of Minority Interests: The Question of Single-Member Districts, in Race, Ethnicity, Representation and Governance, 1994.

The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy, The Free Press, 1994.

Contributor to scholarly journals, including Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, University of Michigan Law Review, Berkeley Womens Law Journal Annual, University of Virginia Law Review, Texas Law Review, and Pennsylvania Law Review.

Sources

Emerge, July/August 1993, p. 11; April 1994, p. 59.

Esquire, December 1984, pp.488-92.

Essence, August 1993, p. 116.

Jet, May 2, 1994, pp.8-9.

Ms., September/October 1993, pp.50-57.

Nation, May 31, 1993, pp.724-25; June 21, 1993, pp.855-56.

New Republic, June 14, 1993, pp. 7, 1619.

Newsweek, May 24, 1993, p. 67; June 14, 1993, pp.24-28, 78; August 23, 1993, p. 25; March 14, 1994, p. 57.

New Yorker, June 14, 1993, pp. 4, 6.

New York Times, May 5, 1993, p. A-19; May 21, 1993, p. B-9; May 23, 1993, section 4, p. 14; July 14, 1993, p. A-12; October 19, 1993, p. A-29.

New York Times Book Review, March 13, 1994, pp.6-7.

New York Times Magazine, February 27, 1994, pp.40-44, 54-55, 66. Progressive, September 1993, pp.28-32.

Publishers Weekly, September 20, 1993, p. 7.

Time, April 25, 1994, p. 43.

Wall Street Journal, April 30, 1993, p. A-12; May 3, 1993, p. A-16; May 7, 1993, p. A-14; May 13, 1993, p. A-15; May 27, 1993, p. B-2; June 2, 1993, p. A-15.

Washington Post, May 21, 1993, p. A-23; May 25, 1993, p. A-19; May 28, 1993, p. A-4; June 3, 1993, p. A-1; June 4, 1993, p. A-10; June 4, 1993, p. C-l; June 5, 1993, p. A-10; June 6, 1993, p. A-11.

Additional information for this profile was taken from a Now television interview, broadcast on NBC-TV, March 16, 1993.

Ondine E. Le Blanc

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