Monday, January 12, 2009

On January 12

On this day in ...

... 1948, on a Monday just 4 days after the conclusion of a 2-day oral argument, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam judgment declaring that Oklahoma must afford petitioner Ada Sipuel Fisher (right) -- whom the Court described as "a Negro, concededly qualified" --admission to the state law school where "many white applicants have been afforded legal education." The brief opinion in Sipuel v. Board of Regents added that Oklahoma "must provide it for her in conformity with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and provide it as soon as it does for applicants of any other group." But Oklahoma ignored the order. The Court, in Fisher v. Hurst, a decision issued the next month, refused to issue a writ of mandamus on behalf of petitioner. As I've posted, the dissent by Justice Wiley B. Rutledge was preceded by a bench memorandum from his law clerk, John Paul Stevens. Eventually, Sipuel Fisher was permitted to attend the law school, albeit under harsh conditions; she graduated in 1952 and returned to her hometown to practice law. In 1992 she was appointed to the Board of Regents of the university that once had excluded her. She died in 1995. (credit for oil portrait of Sipuel Fisher, by Mitsuno Ishii Reedy, which is on display in the rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol)

... 1992, in a national referendum, the people of Mali approved a new Constitution. According to the Library of Congress, the 1992 Constitution, "[l]ike its two predecessors, ... is based on the French model." (The West African country, flag at left, won independence from France in 1960.) The 1992 Constitution has been amended once, in 1999, "to incorporate some revisions of the electoral system and strengthen the judicial system"; those changes were not submitted to popular vote.


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