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Not a Judge

In response to:

Justice for Blacks? from the March 5, 1998 issue

To the Editors:

Nicholas Lemann describes Randall Kennedy [in “Justice for Blacks?” NYR, March 5] as “the son of a judge, educated and trained at Princeton and Yale Law School, a Rhodes Scholar, and Supreme Court clerk to Thurgood Marshall….” But Kennedy is the son of a retired postal worker who in the late 1950s moved his family from segregated South Carolina (where Randall had been born in 1956) to a poor, black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Later, the family moved again to a mixed-race, blue-collar community in the district, from which Randall’s older brother applied to Princeton at the urging of a white high-school classmate. (It is this brother, Henry, who has become a judge.)

To know this background is to appreciate more deeply Kennedy’s impressive resume and his commitment to color-blindness in law, and he reflects upon his upbringing and political development movingly and at some length in Chapter Six of my Liberal Racism. There, too, I summarize Kennedy’s legal thinking and the controversies through which it has unfolded. Readers may find this profile a useful supplement to Kennedy’s Race, Crime, and the Law and to Lemann’s review.

Jim Sleeper
New York City

Nicholas Lemann replies:

I’m sorry for the mistake and grateful to Jim Sleeper for pointing it out.

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