Lani Guinier, Black Jewish Legal Scholar and Civil Rights Icon, Dead at 71

Lani Guinier in 1998, five years after her nomination for a top post in the Justice Department was withdrawn. (Credit…Librado Romero/The New York Times)

Lani Guinier, a legal scholar and champion for voting rights who was once nominated to be assistant attorney general by then-President Bill Clinton, died on Friday, her cousin, Sherrie Russell-Brown, confirmed to CNN. She was 71.

Russell-Brown told CNN that Guinier had passed away peacefully, “surrounded by family and friends.”

Guinier was widely known for her 1993 nomination to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, which was met with a swift rebuke from the Republican Party due to her support for affirmative action and consequently failed.

Guinier had worked in the department’s Civil Rights Division before leading the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s, according to her Harvard Law School biography.

Guinier described her voting rights efforts as her “intellectual, professional, and spiritual cause,” according to a statement Friday on Yale Law School’s website. She received her J.D. degree from Yale Law School in 1974, following Clinton, who graduated in ’73.

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SOURCE: CNN, Shawna Mizelle