Monday, June 2, 2003

Prof. Burke Marshall Dies at 80

Burke Marshall, the Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor Emeritus of Law and George W. Crawford Professorial Lecturer in Law, passed away this morning. Marshall was the head of the civil rights division in Robert Kennedy's Department of Justice in the early 1960s and was a beloved member of the Yale Law School faculty for over thirty years. He was 80.

Marshall received undergraduate and law degrees from Yale. He served in the U.S. Army as a Japanese linguist and cryptoanalyst from 1942 to 1946. After graduating from law school, he joined the law firm of Covington and Burling, and became a partner there in 1960. In 1961, he was named assistant attorney general for the civil rights division by President John F. Kennedy. In his time in the Department of Justice, Marshall played a critical role in the federal government's efforts to desegregate the South and enforce the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. He left government service to become vice president and general counsel at IBM. He returned to Yale Law School in 1970 as deputy dean and professor. He was named Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor in 1986.

Yale Law School Dean Anthony T. Kronman wrote in a message to the community: "It is hard for me to accept Burke's death. His goodness was so large that I half believed and fully wished he would live forever. Burke's generosity brought out the best in others. His love of justice helped change a nation. In Burke, the passion for equality became a rare and inspiring virtue and the legacy this modest man has left us is worth more than all the treasure in the world. How fortunate we were to be within his orbit."

Details about a memorial service for Burke Marshall are forthcoming.

Links to obituaries for Burke Marshall:

New York Times, "A Quiet Champion of Civil Rights ," "Burke Marshall, Key Strategist of Civil Rights Policy, Dies at 80"

Washington Post, "Burke Marshall, 80, Dies; JFK's Civil Rights Enforcer"

Los Angeles Times, "Burke Marshall, 80; Key Strategist of Civil Rights Policy and Desegregation"