“When Christina Swarns steps up to the podium on Wednesday for oral arguments in Buck v. Davis, her appearance will represent a rare event: an African-American woman arguing a Supreme Court case.
“Swarns, the 48-year-old litigation director for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, will be defending Duane Buck, a Texas death row inmate whose trial was irreparably tainted by racially discriminatory expert testimony that effectively sealed his fate on death row. The case comes at a time when the nation is having a conversation about racial bias in the criminal justice system. But even as the case raises troubling questions about fairness in the courts, Swarns’ appearance as one of the very few black women ever to argue a Supreme Court case is another reminder of why such problems may persist. African-Americans are still far more overrepresented as defendants in the system than as judges or lawyers, a fact that’s especially true at the Supreme Court.”