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  1. 1. Reconsidering Roosevelt on Race: How the Presidency Paved the Road to Brown
  2. 2. Total Number of Pro- and Anti- Supreme Court Civil Rights Decisions for Each Five Year, 1896-1955
  3. 3. Conventional Explanations <ul><ul><li>Current of History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy and Support Structure Model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political Systems Model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judicial Independence Approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judicial Leadership </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Three Components of the Argument <ul><li>The Court-Packing Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Roosevelt’s Nine Appointments to the Court </li></ul><ul><li>The Efforts of the Roosevelt Justice Department, particularly the newly-created Civil Rights Section </li></ul>
  5. 5. Institutional Mission of the Roosevelt Court <ul><li>Deference to the executive (allied in the formation of the modern presidency) </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment to rights-centered liberalism </li></ul>
  6. 6. FDR’s Appointments to the Supreme Court <ul><li>Hugo Black </li></ul><ul><li>Stanley Reed </li></ul><ul><li>Felix Frankfurter </li></ul><ul><li>William O. Douglas </li></ul><ul><li>Frank Murphy </li></ul><ul><li>Jimmy Byrnes </li></ul><ul><li>Harlan F. Stone (elevated to Chief Justice) </li></ul><ul><li>Robert H. Jackson </li></ul><ul><li>Wiley B. Rutledge </li></ul>
  7. 7. FDR’s First Five Justices
  8. 8. FDR’s Justices: 6-9
  9. 9. Justice Department Efforts <ul><li>Mainly through the work of the newly-created Civil Rights Section— formed by order of the president in early 1939 </li></ul><ul><li>An effort to revive “dead-letter” Reconstruction statutes that had been judicially emasculated soon after they were enacted (Criminal Law) </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel to the NAACP’s campaign focusing on civil cases </li></ul>
  10. 10. Four Pillars of Southern White Supremacy <ul><li>White Primary ( U.S. v. Classic & Smith v. Allwright ) </li></ul><ul><li>Poll Tax – FDR’s Hand is clearest here </li></ul><ul><li>Lynching – 60% & possibly all without new anti-lynching legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Police Brutality ( Screws v. U.S ) </li></ul><ul><li>In addition, the CRS aided the NAACP with civil cases and amicus curiae briefs </li></ul><ul><li>Ideology of World War II aides these prosecutions– fight for democracy at home and abroad </li></ul>
  11. 11. Police Brutality Cases Prosecuted by the Justice Department from 1939-1945 Racial Cases State Race of Victim(s) Result U.S. v. Sutherland Georgia Black Two mistrials U.S. v. Culp Arkansas Black & White Convicted U.S. v. Erskine South Carolina Black Convicted U.S. v. Evans Alabama Black & White Acquitted U.S. v. Screws Georgia Black Convictedacquitted U.S. v. Dailey Georgia Black Acquitted U.S. v. Seals Mississippi Black Pleaded guilty U.S. v. Propst Mississippi Black Pleaded guilty U.S. v. Wiggins Florida Black Dismissed Political Case U.S. v. Cowan Louisiana White Acquitted (photographer) Religious Case U.S. v. Catlette West Virginia White Convicted (2 nd Trial) (Jehovah’s Witness) Labor Case U.S. v. Buchanan Arkansas White Nolo contendere (union organizer) (no contest)
  12. 14. Presidential Motivations Underlying Attempts to Transform Judicial Doctrine <ul><li>Consolidation or expansion of electoral coalition </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate legislative policy preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional vision—ideal institutional order </li></ul>
  13. 15. Percentage of Potential African American Voters in “Swing” States (based on 1940 figures) <ul><li>Delaware 13.3% </li></ul><ul><li>Illinois 5.1% </li></ul><ul><li>Indiana 3.7% </li></ul><ul><li>Kansas 3.7% </li></ul><ul><li>Kentucky 8.5% </li></ul><ul><li>Maryland 15.9% </li></ul><ul><li>Michigan 4.4% </li></ul><ul><li>Missouri 6.7% </li></ul><ul><li>New Jersey 5.5% </li></ul><ul><li>New York 4.3% </li></ul><ul><li>Ohio 5.0% </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania 5.0% </li></ul><ul><li>West Virginia 6.7% </li></ul>
  14. 16. Conclusions about the Presidency-Focused Approach and the Origins of Supreme Court Decisions <ul><li>In this specific case, leads to a reconsideration of Roosevelt on race </li></ul><ul><li>Aids in uncovering the origins of Supreme Court decisions at particular historical moments </li></ul><ul><li>Illuminates the power of the presidency </li></ul>