Ask an Expert: Felecia Epps, UNT Dallas

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Felecia Epps, UNT Dallas College of Law DeanUNT System HR brings you UNT World experts with this periodic and always timely installation called "Ask An Expert." So, let's ask...

EXPERT: Felecia Epps became the second dean of the UNT Dallas College of Law in July 2018 with unmatched credentials. Also serving as a professor of law, Epps was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp and after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Creighton University School of Law in 1983, she attended The Basic School in Quantico, Va., followed by Naval Justice School (NJS) in Newport, R.I. She Graduated with honors from NJS and was certified as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy. She served 10 years on active duty, holding a variety of positions including Defense Counsel, Chief Military Justice Officer and Chief Civil Law Officer. We talk to her today about President Biden's expected nomination of the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court. Epps shares what it means to her and the impact it might have on the Black community and the next generation.

Q: what does it mean to you to see what we believe will be the first Black woman nominated to the United State Supreme Court? If and when this candidate is sworn in, will it be an emotional moment for you?
Dean Epps: 
It will be a moment of inspiration – reminiscent of when President Obama was elected the first African American president of the United States. I recall watching the news coverage with my parents who were in their 70s at the time. The swearing-in of the first African American woman Justice will be a similar moment. I will watch that historic moment with pride. I might even shed a tear.

Q: What does it mean for the African American community at-large, but also for those who have made their careers in the legal arena, and especially African American women?
Dean Epps:
 It is definitely a sign of progress – just as the appointment of Justice Thurgood Marshall symbolized progress. It will also be an acknowledgement of all of those African American women lawyers and judges who came before – trailblazers – who were not able to achieve this accomplishment due to race and gender barriers. Just as President Obama’s election did not signal the end to racism in the United States, the appointment of the first African American woman to the United States Supreme Court will not mean that race and gender bias have come to an end. There is still much to be done to ensure that everyone is judged by their character and competence.

Q: How do you think this nomination might impact the next generation of young Black girls as they will grow up with a Black woman sitting on the Supreme Court?
Dean Epps: 
My first thought when I heard of President Biden’s commitment to appoint an African American woman to the Court was that my granddaughter (age 3) could one day be on the U.S. Supreme Court. That is amazing! This step is long overdue. The appointment will say to African American women and girls that the barriers to realizing their dreams are slowly being removed.