Remembering the Honorable Loren Miller this Black History Month

This Black History Month we honor the life and work of Judge Loren Miller (1903-1967), the California attorney, journalist, and activist who played a crucial role in some of the most important legal victories of the Civil Rights Movement. Before becoming a judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court, Loren Miller was a widely-read journalist and a prominent member of the NAACP and the ACLU. He was one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the school desegregation cases consolidated as Brown v. Board of Education. While his accomplishments are many, we want to specifically recognize his contributions to equal housing rights. 

As described in Curbed L.A.: “On May 3, 1948, the United States Supreme Court had ruled that racist real estate covenants barring minorities from living in “white-only” areas could not be enforced by federal or state courts. Loren Miller, alongside future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and other prominent lawyers, had argued the case, Shelley v. Kraemer, on behalf of black homeowners threatened with eviction from their own homes.”

Today, the California Access to Justice Commission honors Judge Miller through our continued housing rights advocacy for BIPOC and low- to moderate-income Californians. We recently published a paper on California’s Rural Housing Crisis and held a symposium addressing the impending eviction crisis as a result of COVID-19. Our Racial Justice & Intersectionality Committee is planning part two of “After the Moratorium: Balancing the Equities in Unlawful Detainer Cases through an Anti-Racist Lens,” to be presented later this year.

For many years California lawyers have celebrated Miller’s legacy through the Loren Miller Legal Services Award, given annually to attorneys who have demonstrated long-term commitment to legal services and who have personally engaged in significant work extending legal services to the poor. The award is jointly given by the California Lawyers Association, Legal Aid Association of California, and the California Access to Justice Commission. We are proud of the many current and former members of the Access Commission and its committees who have received the Loren Miller Legal Services Award, including Justice Earl Johnson (the first recipient), Peter Reid, Katharine Krause, Alice Bussiere, Toby Rothschild, Jack Londen, Mary Burdick, Robert Cohen, Justice Laurie Zelon, Gary Smith, Chris Schneider, and Catherine Blakemore.

 Read a great article about the inspiring Judge Loren Miller here.

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