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University of New Hampshire Law Review

Abstract

[Excerpt] “In the 1950s and 1960s, the southern states struggled to respond to the civil rights decisions being issued by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as the new civil rights laws being passed by Congress. The judicial battleground for this perfect storm of evasion and massive resistance was found in the “old” Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompassed the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In the “old” Fifth Circuit, a minority of liberal appeals court judges—sympathetic to the civil rights movement—used all legal and administrative power at their disposal to make sure that the federal district and appeals courts were complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate in Brown v. Board of Education. In their ground-breaking book A Court Divided: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Politics of Judicial Reform, political scientists Deborah J. Barrow and Thomas G. Walker carefully examined the political behavior of these aforementioned liberal appeals court judges and found evidence that Elbert Parr Tuttle, the Fifth Circuit’s chief judge from 1960 to 1967, was manipulating, or “gerrymandering,” the assignment of appeals court judges to both three-judge district court panels, and three-judge appellate court panels to guarantee that the panels had at least two liberal judges who would enforce the Supreme Court’s desegregation rulings.”

Repository Citation

Todd C. Peppers, Katherine Vigilante & Christopher Zorn, Random Chance or Loaded Dice: The Politics of Judicial Designation, 10 U.N.H. L. REV. 69 (2012), available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol10/iss1/4

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