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(1993) Lani Guinier, “Seeking a Conversation on Race"

By 1993 Lani Guinier, a Yale Law School graduate, had crafted an impressive career as an NAACP attorney who specialized in voting rights cases, member of the law faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, and special assistant in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in the Carter Administration.  In 1993 newly elected President Bill Clinton (whom she had met while both were Yale Law School students) nominated her to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in his administration.  The nomination, however, touched off a firestorm of protest by opponents who labeled her “the  quota queen” for her work to support voting districts that had black majorities.  In the face of that firestorm, President Clinton withdrew her nomination.  On June 4, 1993, Guinier responded with these words at a press conference.  

HAD I BEEN ALLOWED to testify in a public forum before the United States Senate, I believe that the Senate would also have agreed that I am the right person for this job, a job some people have said I have trained for all my life.

I would like to thank all the Americans, those who have known me all my life and those who have only just heard of me, for their support and encouragement.

I am blessed with many loyal friends, fine colleagues, dedicated allies, and a wonderful husband and son. Their support has helped me to endure this process with some measure of dignity, and I am grateful.

I deeply regret that I shall not have the opportunity for public service in the Civil Rights Division. I am greatly disappointed that I have been denied the opportunity to go forward to be confirmed and to work closely to move this country away from the polarization of the last twelve years, to lower the decibel level of the rhetoric that surrounds race, and to build bridges among people of goodwill to enforce the civil rights laws on behalf of all Americans. In particular, I had been excited about the possibility of working closely with Attorney General Janet Reno, a woman of outstanding integrity, a

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