The Supreme Court



Long Strides in Civil Rights

 

 

 



Enacting" The Bill of Rights"

Enacting The Bill of Rights

 

Of the three branches of government, it is the judicial that has shown the greatest awareness that the time is now in civil rights. Once again the Supreme Court has taken a long stride to implement its earlier desegregation decisions in the schools and in other areas of American life.

The Court speaks from 1963 when it uses the phrase "promptly vindicated." In 1955 the pace of implementation was "all deliberate speed." Now there is a new rate of acceleration that is addressed not merely to a generation longing for its children' s rights but for its own. In changing gradualism to promptness as the standard, the Court in its unanimous decision desegregating parks and recreational facilities in the city of Memphis declared that "the basic guarantees of our Constitution are warrants for the here and now." And it indicated that indefinite delays in eliminating racial barriers in the schools could not be countenanced.

In rejecting the suit by Governor Wallace to bar the use of Federal troops in Alabama, the Court underscored its awareness of conditions in the Deep South and the efforts of the Administration to prevent racial troubles. This decision, too, was rooted in long-standing laws of the United States. President Eisenhower carried out the law in Arkansas in 1957; President Kennedy did so again in Alabama in 1963. These are not exercises of "personal power," as Governor Wallace maintained, but of legal power.

" Constitutional law," said Justice Holmes, "like other mortal contrivances has to take some chances." The Supreme Court has again placed its faith in the people, of all races, South and North, to break down long barriers of prejudice and tradition and to take some fresh chances in civil rights. Not in the hereafter, but now, nearly a century after "equal protection of the laws" became a part of the Constitution.

 

Brown U. Fraternity Ends Affiliation on Racial Issue

PROVIDENCE, R. I. - The Brown University chapter of Pi Lamba Phi fraternity has voted unanimously to sever connections with its national organization because the concept of such an affiliation "has become outmoded."

Lawrence R. Gross, chapter president, added that members here questioned whether the national body was pursuing its ideals of non-sectarianism. and civil rights, particularly opposition to racial segregation, "actively and effectively." He said Harvey Burstein, national president in New 'York, had been notified by telegram of the action.

 

South Exhorted to Integrate Now
Regional Council Says Sit-in Ruling Offers Key Choice

ATLANTA - The Southern Regional Council has asserted that immediate elimination of segregation in all public facilities is a "practical necessity" for the South and the nation.

Token steps, it said in one of the few statements yet issued by its executive council, "already are out-grown by N. . . needs and impatience."

The 15 Caucasian and Afro American Southern leaders, whose stated objective is equal opportunity for all persons in the region said, the Supreme Court's sit-in decision recently presented a historic choice.

The court held that cities that make segregation a policy by ordinance or official statement could not prosecute Afro Americans for seeking service in private owned stores.

The council statement said the ruling offered the South another opportunity like the one it spurned following the Court' s 1954 decision against school segregation.

 

Malice Assailed

"They set before us a renewed opportunity for the kind of magnanimity - an intelligence - which we turned our backs on in 1954," the council said. It continued.

"The South nine years ago was called on by the national will for greatness. Instead, it responded with a self-blighting display of malice and futility. The recent events in Birmingham are only the latest episode of this impoverishing of the regional spirit.

'The court's decision of May 20 came, however, at a time of promising events as well. In several Southern cities -Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Knoxville, and Nashville among others - there has arisen an unprecedented awareness among civic leaders that segregation must end, without delay in all public and business services." The statement observed that equality was an American idea.

"It has become also a practical necessity," the council said, "but it is first of all an issue of human decency." The statement went on:

"Had we years ago vigorously defended voting rights in the courts, had we made beginners in the desegregation of public accommodations and services, had we established rules to protect fair and equal employment rights, had we done these and other like things then -which we are beginning to do now -they might have been in time. They are not any longer."

 

Statesmanship Urged

The council said Afro American unrest required statesmanship from national, state and local governments and from private businesses.

"We need to turn from the mere defense of voting rights against criminal violations to the positive assurance of voting rights," it said, "from token school desegregation to a loving concern for the education of all our children.

"We need in all of American life to accept and benefit from each other."

The statement referred to the "debt" owed by the region and nation to Afro American Southerners, who, supported by some Caucasians, "have been the South's moral leaders these last few years." It praised "their continued faith in American institutions."

The council called for the following steps:

Immediate dropping of charges against peaceful demonstrators in cities where charges are pending.

Removal in all cities of segregated practices in Governmental facilities and in stores, hotels, restaurants and other businesses serving the public.

 

N. Y. City Mayor Tells City Departments To Extend Equal Rights

NEW YORK CITY, May 29, 1963 -Mayor Wagner said yesterday that city departments had been ordered to review their programs to provide equal opportunity to all citizens.

He said that the departments already "have a mandate to advance the cause of equal rights for all," then added: "I am willing to concede that whatever we have been doing along these lines until today is not enough for tomorrow."

The remarks were contained in a three-page speech he intended to deliver at a garment district rally at which 3,000 persons protested discrimination in Birmingham. The rally was over by the time the Mayor got there, so he gave copies of his speech to newsmen.

 

"We Have a Few Bigots"

Wagner said that despite a good record in providing equal rights, "we do have a few bigots in New York City and a few is far too many."

Other speakers at the rally, at Seventh, Ave. and 28th St., included the Rev. A.D. King, brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King, and Rabbi Jacob Bloom, one of the 18 Rabbis who went to Birmingham to pledge their support.

The Rev. Mr. King said later that as a result of events in Birmingham and other southern cities "we can point to victory through nonviolent action."

 

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