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H.R. 3097 (113th): Congressional Tribute to Constance Baker Motley Act of 2013

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 12, 2013 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.



1st Session

H. R. 3097


September 12, 2013

(for herself, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Lewis, Ms. Clarke, Mr. Clay, Ms. Lee of California, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Nadler, Mr. Watt, Mr. Carson of Indiana, and Ms. Schakowsky) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


To posthumously award a congressional gold medal to Constance Baker Motley.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Congressional Tribute to Constance Baker Motley Act of 2013 .



Congress finds the following:


Constance Baker Motley was born in 1921, in New Haven, Connecticut, the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis.


In 1943, Constance Baker Motley graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.


Upon receiving a law degree from Columbia University in 1946, Constance Baker Motley became a staff attorney at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (in this Act referred to as the LDF), and fought tirelessly for 2 decades alongside Thurgood Marshall and other leading civil rights lawyers to dismantle segregation throughout the United States.


Constance Baker Motley was the only female attorney on the LDF legal team that won the landmark desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).


In addition to writing briefs in Brown v. Board of Education, Motley was trial or appellate counsel in 57 civil rights cases in the United States Supreme Court, 82 cases in Federal courts of appeals, 48 cases in Federal district courts, and numerous cases in State courts. She argued four appeals in desegregation cases in one day. She won cases that ended de jure segregation in White only restaurants and lunch counters. She protected the right of protestors to march, sit-in, freedom ride, and demonstrate in other ways. She represented Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other jailed civil rights activists and forced their release when they were arrested and locked up in Southern jails. She secured the right for Blacks to register, vote, and have access to the political power structure. She won education desegregation cases in almost every State in the South and the District of Columbia and secured the right for Blacks to attend formerly all White public schools, colleges, and universities including the representation of James Meredith against the University of Mississippi, Charlayne Hunter Gault and Hamilton Holmes against the University of Georgia, Autherine Lucy against the University of Alabama, Harvey Gantt against Clemson College, and Ernest Morial against Louisiana State University. Without her victories in the courtroom, the goal of ending racial segregation in public schools, colleges, and universities, public accommodations, and voting—a goal of the Civil Rights Movement—may not have been achieved.


As the country celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Birmingham Movement, it is noted that Motley was the attorney who went South and represented Dr. King, defended his right to march in Birmingham, Alabama, and Albany, Georgia, and obtained the court order which mandated the reinstatement of over 1,000 school children who had been expelled from school for demonstrating with Dr. King in Birmingham fifty years ago. She represented Freedom Riders who rode buses to test the Supreme Court's 1960 ruling prohibiting segregation in interstate transportation. She protected the right of Blacks to ride and sit in any vacant seat on buses and trains, to use bathroom facilities and drink from fountains in bus and train stations, to be served and eat at lunch counters and restaurants, to vote, stay in hotels, and to go to parks, museums, and places of public accommodations on an equal basis with Whites. She won the case in the Supreme Court that led to the reversal of all arrests and convictions of all of the thousands of sit-in activists.


Constance Baker Motley argued 10 major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, winning all but one.


Constance Baker Motley’s only loss before the United States Supreme Court was in Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202 (1965), a case in which the Supreme Court refused to proscribe race-based peremptory challenges in cases involving African-American defendants, and which was later reversed in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), on grounds that were largely asserted by Constance Baker Motley in the Swain case.


In 1964, Constance Baker Motley became the first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate.


In 1965, Constance Baker Motley became the first African-American woman, and the first woman, to serve as president of the Borough of Manhattan.


Constance Baker Motley, in her capacity as an elected public official in New York, continued to fight for civil rights, dedicating herself to the revitalization of the inner city and improvement of urban public schools and housing.


In 1966, Constance Baker Motley was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


The appointment of Constance Baker Motley made her the first African-American woman, and only the fifth woman, appointed and confirmed for a Federal judgeship.


In 1982, Constance Baker Motley was elevated to Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the largest Federal trial court in the United States.


Constance Baker Motley assumed senior status in 1986, and continued serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York with distinction for nearly 2 decades.


Constance Baker Motley passed away on September 28, 2005, and is survived by her son, Joel Motley III, her 3 grandchildren, her brother, Edward Baker of Florida, and her sisters Eunice Royster and Marian Green, of New Haven, Connecticut.


Congressional gold medal


Presentation authorized

The President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are authorized to make appropriate arrangements for the posthumous presentation, on behalf of Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design in commemoration of Constance Baker Motley, in recognition of her enduring contributions and service to the United States.


Design and striking

For the purpose of the presentation referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (in this Act referred to as the Secretary) shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.


Duplicate medals

Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 3, at a price sufficient to cover the cost thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses, and the cost of the gold medal.


National medals


National medal

The medal struck under section 3 is a national medal for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.


Numismatic items

For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, United States Code, all duplicate medals struck under section 4 shall be considered to be numismatic items.


Authority to use fund amounts; Proceeds of sale


Authority To use fund amounts

There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the cost of the medals struck under this Act .


Proceeds of sale

Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals under section 4 shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.