President Truman's Justice Department and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Supreme Court

President Truman's Justice Department and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Supreme Court Introduction2017 marked the seventieth anniversary of an important landmark in the history of the Supreme Court. Although the Court's decisions in the Brown cases that destroyed the legal foundations of state‐sanctioned racial discrimination were handed down during Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency, much of the groundwork was laid on President Harry S. Truman's watch. Faced with an unhelpful Congress, Truman's contributions to civil rights were effectively confined to the bully pulpit (as witness, his speech to the NAACP at the Lincoln Memorial) and executive actions (such as establishing the President's Committee on Civil Rights and endorsing its recommendations; desegregating the federal government and the military). Even before he pledged support for civil rights at the Lincoln Memorial in June 1947, he engaged with Attorney General Tom C. Clark on how to combat the rise in Southern white terrorism and committed his Justice Department to tackling lynching. Moreover, on December 5, 1947, the Justice Department broke with tradition by intervening for the first time in a case between private litigants where no concrete federal interest such as the interpretation of a U.S. statute was involved. At issue was the enforceability of racially restrictive housing covenants. Between 1947 and 1952, Truman's Justice http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Supreme Court History Wiley

President Truman's Justice Department and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Supreme Court

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© Supreme Court Historical Society
ISSN
1059-4329
eISSN
1540-5818
D.O.I.
10.1111/jsch.12169
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Introduction2017 marked the seventieth anniversary of an important landmark in the history of the Supreme Court. Although the Court's decisions in the Brown cases that destroyed the legal foundations of state‐sanctioned racial discrimination were handed down during Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency, much of the groundwork was laid on President Harry S. Truman's watch. Faced with an unhelpful Congress, Truman's contributions to civil rights were effectively confined to the bully pulpit (as witness, his speech to the NAACP at the Lincoln Memorial) and executive actions (such as establishing the President's Committee on Civil Rights and endorsing its recommendations; desegregating the federal government and the military). Even before he pledged support for civil rights at the Lincoln Memorial in June 1947, he engaged with Attorney General Tom C. Clark on how to combat the rise in Southern white terrorism and committed his Justice Department to tackling lynching. Moreover, on December 5, 1947, the Justice Department broke with tradition by intervening for the first time in a case between private litigants where no concrete federal interest such as the interpretation of a U.S. statute was involved. At issue was the enforceability of racially restrictive housing covenants. Between 1947 and 1952, Truman's Justice

Journal

Journal of Supreme Court HistoryWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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