Skip to comments.Today In History:Judicial Power (Supreme Court rules on Meredith 45 years ago today)
Posted on 09/10/2007 7:23:11 AM PDT by Nextrush
The case of James Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi wound its way through the federal court system after the NAACP filed suit in May 1961.
A federal district judge ruled in favor of the university and a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Meredith.
The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and there was a temporary stay of the Appeals Court order.
In what was not a surprise for an integration case, the Warren Supreme Court ordered that Meredith be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
The decision came on Monday September 10th, 1962.
The justice who directed that Meredith be admitted by vacating the stay was Justice Hugo Black (also known for creating the modern cliche "separation of church and state" in his ruling in a 1947 case).
Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett vowed to resist the admission of Meredith following the Supreme Court ruling.
I recall that there was, at the time a great deal of controversy, mainly centering on "states rights" and, more directly, "race mixing".
From my conservative prospective, I couldn't see then and cannot see now any justification for segregation. Period.
Segregation was an immoral thing that was changed through the use of legal (judicial and legislative) power.
Racial hatreds in our country have cooled only because of changes in people’s hearts that put behind them the heated conflict of the 1960’s.
These riots that turned more deadly as the decade moved on from the Oxford, Mississippi battle.
The conflict of the 1960’s left many bitter and angry. What people of different races said about each other in communities like mine when I was a child were not pleasant.
The “states rights” and constitutional issues would arise when Barry Goldwater and other conservative Republicans challenged the legality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it carried federal government power too far at the expense of states and individuals.
These same conservatives had supported earlier Civil Rights Bills in 1957 and 1960, but the 64 law took federal power too far in their view.
These cases in Little Rock and Oxford came about as the result of federal judicial decisions as opposed to legislative ones.
Little Rock and Ole Miss forced the executive branch to act to enforce them against the will of state governments.
The absurdity of this conflict will be played out in some of my future posts.
The legal basis for Segregation was rotten. Plessy v. Fergueson, 1896, was the pivotal equal protection case and was patently absurd. The odyssey of James Meredith had fare more to due with plane old hatred, veiled with legalistic mumbo jumbo, than with anything else.
The world has changed but the political intrigues surrounding those changes take us off the moral plane.
Politicians in 1957 and 1962 wanted to look good and the moral considerations got buried in the mire.
The leftist and radical elements of change were fully on display in the 1960’s.
We even had Bayard Rustin, civil rights advocate, Communist, associate of Martin Luther King and men’s room arrestee. That’s right, soliciting in a men’s room. A Larry Craig in his time.
Rustin was described in 1963 by Robert F. Kennedy, then attorney general as a “pink fairy.”
There’s more to the story than anyone’s moral platitudes about racism, “hate” and or segregation.
The first Ten Commandments have enough to say that should cause us not to be racist, but there is no 11th Commandment “Thou shalt not be a racist” that stands above the first ten in value.
Additionally, race baiting and commie baiting was an honored tradition in politics. Just questioning segregation was sure to bring the charge of "commie" or "n*****r lover". Usually that was enough to end the conversation. Barry Goldwater was one politician who tried to defend "states rights" as a pure constitutional issue. I do not believe he was a racist but the volume of patently bad law damaged him as did the reflexive cries of "racist". The commerce clause cases are central to any consideration of states rights but that fight was pretty much lost during the latter part of the Depression and after the War. Equal protection cases, however, must not be again subverted.
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