PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION URGING THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA JUDICIAL CENTER BE RENAMED "CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERT N. C. NIX, JR. JUDICIAL CENTER"

WHEREAS, there are and have historically been many fine Pennsylvania lawyers and judges who made and make their homes in Philadelphia;

WHEREAS, from time to time, one individual’s actions and accomplishments stand out, even among a group of distinguished lawyers and judges, leaving an indelible mark of progress in the bar and/or the judiciary;

WHEREAS, former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. was born on July 13, 1928, raised and educated in Philadelphia, and passed away on August 23, 2003 at the age of 75;

WHEREAS, the late Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. was the only child of Ethel Lanier and Robert N. C. Nix, Sr., who was Pennsylvania’s first African American Congressman, and who presented the eulogy in Congress for President John F. Kennedy;

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Nix attended Philadelphia Public Schools and graduated from Central High School in 1946 with the highest honors in his class. He then graduated as Valedictorian from Villanova University in 1950 with an A.B. in Philosophy. He obtained his J.D in 1953 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law (his father’s alma mater). He then served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. Upon his return to Philadelphia he completed post-graduate studies in Business Administration and Economics at Temple University. Chief Justice Nix received twelve honorary doctorates in his lifetime; and, a devout Catholic, he was inducted as a Knight Commander in the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II;

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Nix passed the then highly discriminatory Pennsylvania Bar in 1956, and became one of the first African Americans to serve as a Deputy Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1958, he joined his father and a colleague in private practice, forming Nix, Rhodes & Nix, which was one of the few Black law firms of that era, and the only Black firm to operate from an office on South 15th Street, because Blacks were precluded from renting space in Center City buildings at that time;

WHEREAS, Nix, Rhodes & Nix was involved in over three hundred trials, including many noteworthy civil rights cases. Chief Justice Nix developed a reputation as a civil rights advocate. Early in the 1960s, he represented United Neighbors, a citizens group in West Philadelphia petitioning the City for much needed improvements in the neighborhood, garnering considerable attention as he led the Plaintiffs to victory. In 1963 he served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rights, where he brought attention to discriminatory practices in City government hiring and inequities caused by the unchecked practices of slumlords;

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Nix was elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 1967. In 1971, he was appointed as an Associate Justice to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by Governor Milton Shapp. In 1972 he was elected to that position in a landslide victory, becoming the first African American Associate Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the first African American to hold a statewide office in Pennsylvania. He became Chief Justice in 1984, the first African American to hold the position in the nation and from 1991 to 1992, he served as President of the National Conference of Chief Justices;

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Nix selflessly devoted his time, talents, energy and efforts to the championing of civil rights, promoting equality and justice in all forms;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association believes and holds that Chief Justice Nix’s commitment to justice, the legal process, and good citizenry are exemplary, and reflects the Philadelphia Bar Association’s own values;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association believes and holds that Chief Justice Nix’s tireless efforts should be recognized and memorialized for generations to come;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association believes and holds that Chief Justice Nix’s legacy of striving for equal justice is best commemorated in the renaming of the Pennsylvania Judicial Center;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports and encourages all efforts to rename the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, the “Chief Justice Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. Judicial Center”;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association respectfully urges the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to act forthwith in renaming the Pennsylvania Judicial Center the "Chief Justice Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. Judicial Center";

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor is authorized to take all action necessary to implement this resolution in a quick and timely fashion;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor's designee(s) shall communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position to the Courts, the General Assembly, the Governor, the Attorney General, the City of Philadelphia, the legal profession, the media, and the public and take whatever additional action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: June 24, 2020