Justices’ past affirmative action views, in their own words.
What are their feelings about the civil-rights era and the civil-rights laws that Congress passed in the 1960s?
In 1956, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, as well as other civil-rights legislation drafted in the 1940s and 1950s. Some of those law passed by Congress in the 1950s protected women, blacks, gays and other minorities.
When he was chief justice, Earl Warren was the first to publicly support those laws.
Here are some of Earl Warren’s comments:
“It means that it can make no difference what color you are or what color you have. It says you may come into the courtroom and sit in the front row, but if you choose to be a member of Congress, you are excluded there. That’s the kind of thing this country needs.
“I’m a big believer in the American experiment. I like the fact that you get a chance to be as best you can be as a person. There’s a lot of discrimination out there. It’s a problem. It’s going to be looked at in the future. This was not a new idea when President Truman was talking about the 50-year goal. It was discussed and enacted.
“When you are elected to the United States Congress or to a state legislature, it’s no secret that some people in your race won’t vote for you — some people of color won’t vote for you, so you are going to have to go out there and work for them. Sometimes you don’t have that long of a head start. You have to learn how not to be a bigot.”
“It is a fact that a disproportionate number of African Americans do not reach the highest rungs of political leadership in this country because of discrimination. The fact is, blacks are not elected to the presidency as a proportionately greater number than whites. They are not elected as a proportional number of all Senate appointments. They are not elected to the majority of Supreme Court appointments. And they are not represented in the legislative bodies of the states.”
“It is a fact that racial discrimination is a major problem that can and should be corrected. And I do want to emphasize