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Lani Guinier, a civil rights lawyer and scholar whose nomination by President Bill Clinton to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division was pulled after conservatives criticized her views on correcting racial discrimination, has died. She was 71.

Guinier died Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning said in a message to students and faculty. Her cousin, Sherrie Russell-Brown, said in an email that the cause was complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard law school when she joined the faculty in 1998. Before that she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school. She had previously headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s and served during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which she was later nominated to head.

“I have always wanted to be a civil rights lawyer. This lifelong ambition is based on a deep-seated commitment to democratic fair play — to playing by the rules as long as the rules are fair. When the rules seem unfair, I have worked to change them, not subvert them,” she wrote in her 1994 book, “Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy.”

Clinton, who knew Guinier going back to when they both attended Yale’s law school, nominated her to the Justice Department post in 1993. But Guinier, who wrote as a law professor about ways to remedy racial discrimination, came under fire from conservative critics who called her views extreme and labeled her “quota queen.” Guinier said that label was untrue, that she didn’t favor quotas or even write about them, and that her views had been mischaracterized.

Clinton, in withdrawing her nomination, said he hadn’t read her academic writing before nominating her and would not have done so if he had.

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