Thursday, May 15, 2003

When the Senate refused to confirm the Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit to the Supreme Court

Seventy-three years ago, in May of 1930, the U.S. Senate denied confirmation of President Hoover's nominee John J. Parker, then Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit, to the U.S. Supreme Court, mostly because of his racial and anti-union statements, as reported here.

Twenty years later, the NAACP came before Judge Parker in one of the anti-segregation cases that became part of Brown v. Board of Education, and by that time, Parker had proven to be "as fair-minded and generous-spirited a Southerner as had ever sat on the federal bench," according to Richard Kluger's Simple Justice, but he refused in the Briggs case to do what a dissenting colleague and later the Supreme Court did - to declare that racial discrimination was indefensible and segregation was a denial of equal protection.

[UPDATE - On reflection, Judge Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., from South Carolina was also Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit when the Senate rejected him after he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1969 by President Nixon.]

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