CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE
47
Now, I don’t know any civilization that’s been able to break a
caste system except what was done in this country in the six-
ties. And as far as the law is concerned, it certainly wasn’t the
people in Washington. It certainly wasn’t the Justice Depart-
ment. It was these five men. It’s just like some greater being
put these men where they were at that time.
“They made an immeasurable contribution to the welfare of
the country. I really can’t be more emphatic about the way I feel
about it. I’m just absolutely convinced that if we had had run-
of-the-mill judges — either because they were lazy or afraid,
or because they had a philosophy of being segregationist or
because they were incompetent . . .
Doar interrupted himself and asserted:
The federal judicial system is not necessarily designed to bub-
ble up great men. It’s unusual, really, that those kind of men
would get appointed to the jobs. It’s a phenomenon. And just
at this point in time in American history they were there.
III. Selma
As a trial judge whose opinions made local headlines, Johnson faced levels
of hostility sufficiently high that for 15 years he received 24-hour protection
by federal marshals. Only Judge J. Skelly Wright could be compared with
Johnson as a District Judge. A Democrat who faced down the full force and
abusive power of the entire state of Louisiana in the 1961 school desegre-
gation crisis in New Orleans, Wright soon left the South to accept appoint-
ment to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
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