The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Dixie again - John Stennis and Judge John Parker

A couple of interesting-looking pieces with a link: a paper (PDF) by Joseph Crespino Southern Roots of the New Right: John C. Stennis and Federal School Desegregation, 1954-1972 refers (p14) to one of the many decisions in the case of Brigg v Elliott, the Clarendon County, SC case that got consolidated with the Topeka case Brown.

In this decision (of the Fourth Circuit, 132 F Supp 776 [1]), Judge John Parker famously (it says here) glossed Brown thus [2]:
The Constitution, in other words, does not require integration. It merely forbids discrimination.

By coincidence, I recently came across a thesis (PDF) Confirmation Denied: The Senate Rejects John J Parker by George W C McCarter.

It's the same guy: I've yet to do more than glance at the thesis, but the received wisdom puts it down as the first (1930) legislative hurrah of the NAACP (Parker's initial problem seems to have been a previous Fourth Circuit decision endorsing yellow-dog contracts that got the AFL's goat). And a sign of the coming fin de régime. (The GOP lost the House in 1930, from memory, whereupon Cactus Jack Garner became Speaker.)

Had he been confirmed, might Brown I have gone the other way? Or at least, not been unanimous?

Of course, if Fred Vinson had been fit as a butcher's dog, rather than kicking the bucket at 63, we'd have probably (druther alert!) got a minimalist Brown I - and schools desegregation would have been back with the politicians where it belonged.

  1. Google references to this case mostly include the abbreviation EDSC - and an F Supp case you would indeed expect to have been decided by a District Judge. The Keyes USSC case confirms it to be a circuit court decision.

  2. The Keyes note that mentions Briggs cites when the dictum was kiboshed.

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