Maria Marcus, a law professor who defended civil rights in the South as a public interest attorney and successfully tried six cases in the United States Supreme Court, which represented New York State, in one case receiving unemployment benefits for striking workers, died April 27. in it. house in Manhattan. She was 88.

Her death was confirmed by her daughter Valerie Marcus.

Professor Marcus challenged the cases in the Supreme Court, representing the Attorney General of New York. She was Assistant Attorney General from 1967 to 1978 and Head of the Office’s Judicial Bureau from 1976 to 1978.

In early 1979, a court agreed, 6 to 3, in the New York Telephone v. New York State Department that the state was authorized to require companies to pay unemployment benefits to striking workers. (Professor Marcus argued this case in 1978.)

Judges rejected the telephone campaign’s argument that because the law secretly prefers work over management, it should give way to federal labor laws that call for government neutrality. In its ruling, the court upheld the appeals court’s ruling that, despite the law putting the state on the side of the labor force during the strike, Congress did not introduce a unified national policy on unemployment benefits for strikers, leaving it to the state. to decide.

According to the Historical Society of the Supreme Court, of the 160 women who have argued in court since 1880, only eight were more than Professor Marcus. She finished ninth with five attorneys, including Ruth Bader Ginzburg, for most of the woman’s arguments before the court from 1880 to 1980.

She taught at Fordham University Law School from 1978 until her retirement in 2011. She was only the second woman to become a full-time professor there.

Professor Marcus moderated Fordham’s award-winning program for 42 years. In 1995, her team won the National Litigation Competition, organized by the New York Bar Association and the American College of Judicial Advocates.

She is credited with writing one of the first articles reviewing domestic violence laws, “Spousal Violence: The Law of Force and the Force of Law,” in 1981.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Brooklyn Federal District Court, who co-advocated for unemployment assistance in the Supreme Court, described Professor Marcus in a telephone interview as “a strict judge who was a perfectionist but an extremely patient teacher.”

Matthew Dealer, dean of Fordham Law School, wrote in an email that her “main legacy – in the generations of students she taught – is emphasizing the values ​​of honesty, clarity and precision and a sense of joy in the intellectual stream and beyond. a well-argued argument that is legal propaganda at its best ”.

Maria Eleanor Erica Lenhoff was born on June 23, 1933 in Vienna. Her father, Arthur Lenhof, was a judge of the Constitutional Court of Austria, the country’s highest court. Her mother, Clara (Gruber) Lenhoff, was a housewife.

On the day that Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, the family fled first to Switzerland, then to England and finally to the United States. Her father, a Jew, was on the Gestapo’s wanted list for his legal decisions demanding equality of religions in universities – decisions that Professor Marcus later compared in an article to American Civil Law Judiciary as “Pre-War Brown v. Austrian Education Council.”

“Based on this experience, she deeply felt the importance of justice and the rule of law,” said William M. Treanor, dean and executive vice president of the Georgetown University Law Center. “I learned a lot from her work, which combined extraordinary erudition with devotion to the law as a force for good.”

Professor Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1954 and graduated in 1957 from Yale University Law School. There she met and married Norman Marcus, who became the chief adviser to the New York City Planning Commission. He died in 2008.

In addition to her daughter Valerie, who is vice president of legal affairs at RCA Records, she is survived by two children, Nicole and Eric Marcus, and six grandchildren.

Professor Marcus served as an assistant attorney for the NAACP national office from 1961 to 1967 and handled significant civil rights cases in the south. She has worked with Robert L. Carter, Attorney General, and Medgar Evers, NAACP leader in Mississippi.

She was vice president of the New York City Bar Association from 1995 to 1996, and in 1973 chaired the association’s committee, which recommended that the city council pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Colleagues said Professor Marcus had an extraordinary ability to memorize the names and faces of his students on the first day of class. After she retired, she continued to run Fordham Lowe’s Judicial Board for another decade.

Professor James Kainen reminded in an obituary in Fordham that her speech would provoke frequent cries of the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hara, former President of Fordham.

“Every year during his tenure,” said Professor Kainen, “President O’Hare came to one of our faculty meetings and never failed to complain about his inability to hire a football coach to make a record as he approached the record of Mary’s controversial teams. courts. ”

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