18 Jul 2005 Congressional Action: Independent Judiciary
On July 18, Senator Max Baucus delivered a speech supporting a judiciary independent of other branches of government. It included the following story:
…President Eisenhower, who appointed Chief Justice Warren, tried to influence the Chief Justice on that landmark case. [Warren biographer Jim] Newton reports that during the period when the Court was considering Brown v. Board of Education, President Eisenhower invited Chief Justice Warren to join him at dinner with a number of guests. That was while that case was pending.It turned out that President Eisenhower had also invited one of the lawyers for the Southern States in the Brown case.
As the President and Chief Justice stood up from the table — this was dinner, remember, with one of the lawyers for the Southern States there, a private dinner, Chief Justice Warren was there, and President Eisenhower, who appointed Chief Justice Warren, was there — as they stood up from the table, the President took the Chief Justice by the arm. The President motioned to others in the room and then whispered into the Chief Justice’s ear: “These are not bad people.”
The President told the Chief Justice that they were only concerned about their “sweet little girls” having to sit in school beside African-American children.
That is what President Eisenhower said at that dinner to Chief Justice Warren when Brown v. Board of Education was pending. So it mattered that we had a Chief Justice who was independent enough not to listen to the President who appointed him.
It mattered that Chief Justice Warren was independent enough to write for the majority:
We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal…
Note: “Congressional Action” is a blog feature highlighting an an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work.