Over a long and distinguished career, Rod Boggs has left an indelible mark on the civil rights and anti-poverty law landscape in our city and beyond. Rod’s work as the executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, and earlier as a staff attorney at the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has extended nearly five decades beginning in 1969. He contributed to advances in virtually every area of civil rights law and raised the profile of pro bono practice in the legal profession.
Under Rod’s leadership, the Committee served as counsel or co-counsel in some of the most significant civil rights cases of the past 50 years. One of these was Runyon v. McCrary, a case that he helped argue in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, which successfully challenged the racially discriminatory admissions’ policy of a private nursery school. Another was the class action brought in 1993 on behalf of a group of uniformed Secret Service Agents denied service at a Denny’s restaurant while on active duty protecting President Clinton. The settlement of this case provided $17.5 million dollars of monetary and injunctive relief to 175,000 individual class members.
In recognition of his accomplishments, among other honors, Rod has received the Justice Potter Stewart Award from the Council for Court Excellence, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the DC Bar, and most recently the President’s Award from the Washington Council of Lawyers.
The overarching goal of Rod’s work has been to harness the resources of our city’s private bar and its leaders to help secure justice and equal opportunity for all who seek the protection of our civil rights laws. He has pursued this objective over a long career with infectious enthusiasm, an abiding sense of commitment to the Committee’s clients, and strong collaboration with his staff and law firm colleagues.
The Rod Boggs Award is given to a member of the legal profession who has made a sustained commitment to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, its clients and its values.