“Evolution”

Today we had a Conference on the motion of the US in US v. Thomas [(1960) 362 US 58] to vacate the stay granted by the Court of Appeals.

During the Conference [United States Supreme Court Justice Felix] Frankfurter got very heated. He recalled how I, as far back as 1946, was urging the Court to meet the segregation issue and bring cases up. He said if the cases had been brought up then he would have voted that segregation in the schools was constitutional because “public opinion had not then been crystallized against it.” He said the arrival of the Eisenhower Court heralded a change in public opinion on this subject and therefore enabled him to vote against segregation. [Justice] Bill Brennan’s response was “God Almighty!”

—memorandum, Justice William O. Douglas, January 26, 1960

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