Sunday, September 07, 2008

Quote of the Evening

From Derrick Bell, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform (Oxford UP, 2004):
J. Harvie Wilkinson III, now a federal judge but writing as a University of Virginia professor two decades after Brown, offered practical details of why Brown II was a mistake. Brown II, he felt, left federal judges far too exposed; it "gave trial judges little to wrap in or hide behind. The enormous discretion of the trial judge in interpreting such language as 'all deliberate speed' and 'prompt and reasonable start' made his personal role painfully obvious." The judge who, in trying to enforce Brown, did more than the bare minimum, would be held unpleasantly accountable by the active, vocal, and powerful opposition that surrounded him. Wilkinson explained:
Segregationists were always able to point to more indulgent judges elsewhere. Brown II thus resembled nothing more than an order for the infantry to assault segregation without prospect of air or artillery support. That some of the infantry lacked enthusiasm for the cause only made matters worse.... Given the vague and sparse character of Brown II and the Court's low profile thereafter, stagnation was inevitable.

The Wilkinson block quote is from J. Harvie Wilkinson III, The Supreme Court * Southern School Desegregation, 1955 - 1970: A History and Analysis, 64 Va. L. Rev. 485, 507 (1978).

And my schizophrenic relationship with Judge Wilkinson continues.

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