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Truly Unprecedented

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But we know Marshall's personal feelings about the white justices on matters of race were stronger than what he wrote in that dissent. An Adam Liptak piece during the Sotomayor confirmation in 2009, which very nearly anticipates this week's clash, quotes Marshall from an interview that appears to have been given after he left the Court: "What do they know about Negroes? You can't name one member of this Court who knows anything about Negroes before he came to this Court. Name me one."

Late Update: Ironically, Thurgood Marshall's son and widow were in the courtroom Monday when Sotomayor read her dissent: