Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: August 30, 1967

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

8/30/1967: Justice Thurgood Marshall takes the oath.

Justice Thurgood Marshall


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  1. Interesting to read about the interaction between him and W.E.B. DuBois. At the NAACP they worked side by side for years. DuBois, who lived like a monk, was offended by Marshall’s drinking, his dirty jokes, his loud laugh. While Marshall considered DuBois a cold fish who said “good morning” and then worked behind a closed door all day.

    1. Like many civil right leaders of that day (and just many men of that age) Marshall also was known for a parade of mistresses. Little of that is published outside of some biographies of Marshall though which comment that apparently he was known as having a hearty sexual appetite.

    2. DuBois was just a lot smarter than Marshall. Marshall was mediocre in every since- George W Bush level intelligence with less intellectual curiosity- his big thing was soap operas.

  2. A good read for any litigator is the litigation strategies that Marshall was a partial mastermind in getting the NAACP and other similar orgs to adapt to as early as the 1930’s. It resulted in many pre-Brown, not very well known or publicized, early victories against segregation especially at the state level.

  3. The man didn’t know the law but he sure knew soap operas. But like Nixon said shouldn’t mediocrities get some representation on the Court.

    1. Actually Nixon didn’t say that. It was Roman Hruska who said that. Hruska was a senator from Nebraska. Though he was commenting on a Nixon appointee who in fact was a mediocrity.

      1. I remember that. He was talking either about Haynsworth or Carswell. One of them was celebrated as “the most reversed judge” in the country.

        No one thinks Marshall was a great legal brain. But he put his life on the line, in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Can anyone here say that?

        It’s almost funny to see comfortable white conservatives attacking heroes of the civil rights movement. OK, Dr. King should not have been given a doctorate because of plagiarism. But . . . to say something outside of the imagination of the lives of today’s conservatives . . . “the blood was his.”

        1. “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”
          –Sen. Roman Hruska (R-Neb.), patron saint of Heterodox Academy

        2. It is attacking someone to say they weren’t up to the standards of the Supreme Court. It’s upsets you because it’s a reminder that the left in this country has pretensions to intellectual superiority which are completely undercut by their fealty to minority groups.

          His life wasnt at risk. A total of two high profile civil rights leaders were assassinated and one medger Evers wasn’t even that high profile. To put it in perspective three years a violent inflamed by eliminationist left wing rhetoric attempted to assassinate the Republican congressional leadership. No one thinks Mitch McConnell is in much danger.

          1. I gather you’re unaware that Thurgood Marshall was nearly lynched while defending four black rape suspects in Lake County, Florida?

            1. Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were high-profile enough to attract the attention of bigoted conservatives.

              Does movement conservatism generate vicious racists, or merely attract them?

  4. His surly press conference after he announced his retirement from SCOTUS was a thing of beauty!

    1. He was literally angry to be missing his soap operas this isn’t a joke.

      1. Hey, Matt — when your betters are shoving progress down your throat, and you are obsequiously swallowing . . . how does it taste?

        Your cranky comments suggest you don’t like it.

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