Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa on May 14, 1974 · Page 5
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Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa · Page 5

Carroll, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, May 14, 1974
Page 5
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Cataclysmic Desegregation Ruling Delivered by Warren 20 Years Ago FUNNY BUSINESS By Ira Berkow WASHINGTON - (NBA) May 17 will mark 20 turbulent years since that Monday afternoon. Earl Warren, white-haired and black-robed, delivered for 28 minutes the unanimous and still cataclysmic opinion of the highest court in the land. The marble-columned courtroom was packed with hushed spectators. All the justices — including Robert Jackson, making a surprise appearance after a recent heart attack — listened intently as the Chief Justice read: "To separate black school children from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone... "We conclude that in the field of education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Thus racial segregation in public schools was outlawed and declared unconstitutional in the 21 states and the District of Columbia in which it was practiced. Earl Warren is 83 now. Retired as Chief Justice of the United States since June. 1969. he maintains an office in the Supreme Court Building here. He remains erect-looking, tall, solidly built, with an easy smile and unpretentious blue eyes behind thin-rimmed glasses. He seems now to suffer from a slight hearing problem. In a rare, exclusive interview. Warren recalled recently the case that is officially known as Brown et al. vs. Board of Education. "There was drama in the courtroom, all right," he said. "You could feel the tension and the excitement. We knew this would be historic. After all, we even had the attorneys general of seven states argue the case before us. And we knew the decision would affect the way of life and the constitutional theories of millions of citizens. "We gave the decision after prolonged consideration and collaboration among the justices." The processes by which the justices arrive at their decisions remain secrets of history. There were rumors, however, of divisiveness among the justices. Very few major rulings of the court are unanimous. The unexpected unanimity of the court surely gave the decision greater weight among the forces which resisted school desegregation. The Chief Justice initiates and leads the discussions in the judicial conferences which precede the writings of opinions. Thus, Earl Warren, whose greatest strength perhaps was his persuasive powers — he was once elected governor of California on both the Republican and Democratic tickets — was given much credit for the court's solidarity on the Brown case. He believes that there was never any doubt about how the issue should have been decided. "There was only one question in the case," said Warren. "And that was, 'Is it a violation of the constitution to separate the races in the public schools notwithstanding the fact that the physical facilities are equal?'We believe it was. "Since 1896 in the Supreme Court case of Plessv vs. Ferguson, courts have ruled for separate but equal. But in anything else. I think that belief came from my statement about segregation possibly affecting little children all their lives. The fact is. Brown was decided on equal protection of the laws as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment." Warren said .that the decision was made on an impersonal basis, not formulated according to any political or personal philosophy. Some two or three months after the decision. Warren remembers coming to this office on a Saturday morning and rummaging through his mail. "There were only about 600 letters pertaining to the case," he said. "I was surprised at the small number." Some letter writers praised him for helping to advance the democratic process. However, detractors wrote that the Court had decided against the will of God, Warren recalled. "They said 'If He had intended integration. He would have made all the colors the same.' "Another one said, "If Christ had believed in desegregation. He would have had some black disciples.' There were a lot of Scripture references. I never read my fan mail after that." Warren was asked, regarding the hate mail and the "Impeach Earl Warren" campaign that sprung up at the time, whether he was'ever frightened for his life. He laughed. "I've had tougher jobs that this one and I never needed a bodyguard. It's not the way I wanted to live my life." As a prosecutor in California, his life had been threatened by labor and gambling racketeers and by the Ku Klux Klan. (He was instrumental as a district attorney in the 1920s in sending a KKK sheriff to jail for graft.) One aspect of the Brown decision that came under great attack was implementation. After a year of arguments. Warren wrote in the so-called "Brown II" decision that each state would through its courts carry out the integration edict "with all deliberate speed. Fhat was an old phrase, a British admirality phrase, 'with all deliberate speed.'" said Warren. "And one of our early cases in this country used it. It is what is known as a 'phrase of art.' But education is a state function. Every state has its own table of organization, its own manner of functioning. There is one pattern under our federal system that directed our decision. "We thought it best that desegregation conflicts be taken through the trial courts because the courts are closest to 'the people and the problems of the individual." Some critics of this procedure believed that the legislative body should have accepted that burden of implementation and not the courts. But Warren replies, "Corporations for over a hundred years have used the courts to litigate. Corporations got themselves established as persons with all the rights and immunities and due process. So what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." One of the most controversial court decisions in recent years — the sanctioning of busing to insure integration in public schools — was a direct descendant of the Brown case. "Busing is a tool, not a principle," said Warren. "It has been used by the courts only to remedy the patterns of segregation. It is a device to lecturer. He recalls a recent appearance at the University of Georgia. "It was hard to believe," he said. "There crowded into a room and sitting all around the floor, were black and white students galore. "This was a tremendous change. There were no racial problems at all. and these students were collaborating with each other. I don't mean the racial problem doesn't exist anymore. I mean there has been progress in our system. We prided ourselves on having a multiple society. And we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag ... and to the Republic for which it stands...with liberty and justice for all. "Still we haven't achieved it, but we're working toward it. "I think a lot of people overlook what has been done by Brown vs. Board of Education and its progeny. Before this, in places in the South, no black man could eat in the same restaurant with a white man or sleep in the same hotel or stay in the same hospital. Interracial marriages were illegal; a black man could not even be picked up on the street by an ambulance accustomed to carrying white people. A black man could not sit in common in a theater with whites. And the worst irony of all, the dead black man could not be buried in the same cemetery with dead whites. "Anyone who values the principles this country was founded on would have to resent such practices. And that has all changed in rulings subsequent to Brown. "The courts have done a The Iowa Book Shelf By Roger Bo//en tremendous job since 1954, and under great difficulties, because of the recalcitrance of many. The process has not been fully developed. But we can hope, I think, for continuing progress. COGAN'S TRADK. By George V. Higgins. (Knopf, $5.95) For the third time in three years, Higgins has written a novel about the Boston underworld that tells it like it is. Last year's Digger's Game was a big success. The author worked in the Criminal Division of the Attorney General's office in Massachusetts and thus has special insight into gangster personality, and the rules of their society. 'Enforcers', like the hero here, Jackie Cogan, see to it that these rules are obeyed. Cogan's business is to 'hit' some outsiders who interfere with a gambling set-up; he performs in a cold, shrewd, cruel manner and the status quo is retained. All the characters are made 'real' with dialogue ranging from health problems to recapitulations of events Times Herald, Carroll, la. • Tuesday, May 14, 1974 3 which took place while they did time in prison. In the case of two ex-cons, Higgins shows how hard it is to go legitimate and how easy to slip back into a life of crime. Exciting, easy reading. — Pat Doster ALL THE BEST RUBBISH. By Ivor Noel Hume. (Harper and Row. $10,001 Don't be misled by the flippant title; this isn't a book on ordinary collecting of ordinary antiques or "collectables". Written by the scholar responsible for rescuing antiquities from London's post World War II rubble, this volume is, rather, an archeologist's account of the fun and frustrations of those who devote their lives to trying to keep bits of the past from becoming buried by the present. Mr. Hume specializes in pottery and glass but is quite familiar also with coins, clocks, documents, metals, wood 1 and stone. Half-detective, half common laborer and totally enraptured with his field, he dug and wrote for many years in Britain before becoming director of the Department of Archeology at Colonial Williamsburg. This book is about many treasures he and his contemporaries have saved from extinction — "objects having something to say about themselves, about the people who made them, or about the times wherein they were used or enjoyed." One doesn't have to be even faintly interested in the absolute act of "collecting" to find pleasure in this informative and well-illustrated volume. — Kelly Adrian MADE WITH FIBER GLUSS VUHNS BY PPG INOUSTRCS spurgeons Refresh Your Home at 20% Savings! 20% off Sale! One Week Only! Redo Your Important Room with Lombardy Fashionglass Draperies Reg. 7.99 48x63 Reg. 8.99 48x84 7^ Reg. 16.99 100x84 13" Reg. 13.99 100x63 ll^ 7 Reg. 24.99 150x84 19 57 The rich look you're looking for., . and no waiting! A "wooly" textured soft glass drapery in a damask print, made with fiber glass yarns by PPG Industries. Do a window or a wall—extra-wide widths available now! Choose white/gold or white/green. tor separate um c^uai. ""i ••• . °, ° . .. «-, the years preceding the Brown implement the Brown case, decision, there had been a "I'm sure every paren nSSSi "change in the court's white or black _ myself gro .° 1. * -.- included — would want their children going to school close to home. But we have to remember where we come from. We used to bus black children 50 miles to a school when next door to their home was a school they could not attend because it was for whites only. "Since the Court permitted the busing device, I've read H ,,U W ......... v.«- that over 40 per cent of our The Supreme Court struck children are bused for one that down. That was one of reason or another. But only four such cases struck down prior to Brown. 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