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tv   Remembering Justice Thurgood Marshall  CSPAN  July 6, 2021 10:14pm-11:19pm EDT

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next, on american history tv. former prominent figures in american law including supreme court justice, elena kagan recall their experiences working as clerks for supreme court justice and civil rights like on, thurgood marshall. they discuss marshall's personality, his skill as it storyteller and his impact on their careers. the supreme court historical society hosted this event in the supreme court chamber. it's just over an hour. >> i'm john ginsburg and since nobody else seems to be here to do, it all introduce our panel for this evening. in this look back at justice, thurgood marshall. to my immediate left, if you
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have not guessed it is a justice elena kagan. justice kagan was with a justice marshal in what year? >> 80. seven >> 87, seems like yesterday. that was after having attended princeton and then oxford and then harvard for law and served at this chambers as a law clerk, indeed all of our panelists this evening clerk for one charge or another on the d.c. circuit, as this i. >> it's a good court. >> it was a great court. and was in the white house counsel's office and then the clinton administration and then in the policy council as deputy director. couldn't keep her job apparently, that's why the university chicago law school and then after getting tenure there, moved on and settled at
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harvard after a long long after that became the dean of the harvard law school and then couldn't keep that job either and became associate -- solicitor general first and then associate justice of the supreme court. george paul engelmayer at the far end is judge in the southern district of new york and has been since 2011. i should've said you became on the court in 2010 and paul in 2011 in the southern district. we went to harvard and to harvard for law school as well. clerk for judge walled on the d.c. circuit and then was in solicitor's office when drew days was solicitor general. pardon me. and then was in private practice before going on the bench. and professor randall kennedy, in the middle to my left who was a road scholar, a graduate
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of the yale law school, click for judge kelly right on the d.c. circuit. join the harvard faculty in 1984 and has been a very productive, prolific author of books, i think remarkably if some of his colleagues have written articles, he is writing books. i thought of particular interest, grandiose number of the american academy of arts and sciences and the american association of fissile philosophical ideas. so we have an array of three martial clerks, for marshall clerks with myself. i was there myself from 74 to 75 for d.c. circuit clerks. and all of us, like virtually all of our other alumni, justice marshals chambers were very much affected in our
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careers and in our lives by the experience of having been in his chambers and close contact with him for a year. so, we're going to reminisce a little bit, if that's okay. i'm not sure there will be more to attend that. i would hope that it is a sober truest. and so, i'm going to start with you dred scott elena kagan. you don't let people pass in class, did? you >> know, never. >> thank god. so, why don't you tell us about how the clerkship affected your career. >> starting with the big one. how it affected my career? you know, i think lurking on this court affects everybody's career who dies eight. i mean, it's probably more then is justified. it's something that if it does,
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you know, you put it on your resume in all of a sudden, doors open. sometimes justifiably so and sometimes not. but, i think, you know, what's much more important to me is just how the experience of clicking for justice marshal affected who i was and what i thought was important in the world. he was -- you couldn't survive a year in his chambers without realizing that there were -- there were things that you knew nothing about. and, i was an eye-opening experience in many respects other than just learning about the law. and it gave you an appreciation for people who had fought for justice all their lives and the importance of their work.
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especially his work and it made you think. about what you were doing and why you are doing it and not that when could never career that he was so much justice seeking that this was, but i think... [inaudible] his voice in my head never went away in trying to figure out what i was doing in. why >> so, you still hear the call, knucklehead? >> [laughs] knucklehead was on a bad day. short he was on a good day! >> [laughs] >> well, knucklehead you had to share with everyone else. sure he was maybe just yours? [laughs] >> paul, you have something on
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the same question about the arc of your career? >> much of what al ain said, mike, everything she said i agreed with. from my perspective if you come to a clerkship thinking of doing public service and you spent a year with the greatest legal public servant of the 20th century, it can only reinforce that impulse. that certainly was the case for me and all the ways that elena described. midway through the clerkship i talked about the plan to become in this distant u.s. attorney not knowing how heat we ask to that, i was delighted to think that he was enthusiastic and it turned out that he was quite a big fan of the department of jewish states which he had served as. as it happened my year, three of the four of us became assistant u.s. attorney's rate of the courtship news already encouraging that, from my point to that, in only what i said hearing the stories about trial courts lit a fire under me to be a trial lawyer, and to engage with a craft of being in a courtroom. it reminded me of how important
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was to know the facts and the records. one of the lessons that you learn from justice marshall was that it is important for facts to be more important in the law. listening to the way that he recounted the dissidents cases in his career and how decisive evidence and witnesses had really taught you as a lawyer that craft involve getting one with the evidence. as a judge, i think about him almost every day. i think about him in this context. i think about the defendants in my courtroom, about the family members who are there for sentencings, please and particularly. and that this may be the only day for these people in which they are ever in a courtroom. one of the things that you learn from justice marshall is that you want to make sure that there is a decency, honor, dignity that intends the way in which a judge supports him self in court is for the people who are in a federal court for only one day in their life, they are
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feeling noble by the experience, and feeling treated fairly. that was very much something that i had taken with me. i will just and by saying that i have this picture up it's a picture of him on the steps of the supreme court on may 17th 1954. and i walk in in early day and i look at it and it reminds me of what the justice department is. >> i have a lithograph of him as well in my office. something that i am very pleased to have, that i acquired not long after leaving chambers. randi? >> well it was a great pleasure working for justice marshall -- i did not know at the time that i would be a legal academic, but i turned out to be illegal academic and one of the
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subjects that i write about is race relations law. and what would have been better than working for justice marshall, known before he got on the bench as mr. civil rights? and over the course of the year, one of the great benefits of working for him was that he knew and had seen everyone. he had many stories. he was very generous with his time. and very generous with his recollections. and i would just ask him lots of questions. and it turns out that much of what he shared with me came of use in my professional life as an academic. still, it very much is of use to me. >> i see that you've been joined by mrs. marshall. welcome. elena, i will come back to you, if i may.
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this is a memorable opinion by the justice, if you could belize tell us. and whether you worked on it. [laughs] >> yes, i will give you to actually. one will be not surprising, one may be more surprising to folks. both were the year that i clerk for justice marshall. we used to call him judge, or atm. we actually never called him justice marshall. but, here is the one that maybe you won't be so surprised by. it was... this was one that really... it brought on the knucklehead appalachian. it was a case called -- it was a case about a white 12-year-old girl enroll kansas, i believe. she lived more than 15 miles
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away from the nearest school and there was a bus service that they made you pay and they would not give a waiver for even for indigent students to the result was that this girl did not get to school. and there was a challenge brought to the fees schedule, you know? getting on to the idea of a state charging fees for the school bus which was absolutely necessary for her to get to the school. and was a constitutional challenge brought under the protection clause. we laid out the arguments and i told him, i think it will be hard for, i think her name was serena -- it's not a subset class in education, it is not a fundamental right, that means rational basis applies.
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and -- he looked at me as though i must have lost my mind. [laughs] ,, -- . , he was going to vote to make that happen. we descended in that case. the justices dissented, i think it was six to three or a seven to two opinion and most of the court decided that the case, just as i basically laid it out to him. and justice marshall rode on that dissent. the reason i say that i was called it knucklehead quite a lot with these cases because of all the cases that i worked on, it was the one that he was most passionate about. you know, the idea of i think
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what's one moved him more than anything was trying to get rid of these entrenched inequalities in american life. this one did not involve race, but it was all the same team. and i would bring in a draft of a descent, he would say, stronger. i would bring in another he would say, stronger. i bring in another... it went on like that for quite awhile until he felt like i got the right level of passion and discussed in this dissenting opinion. and obviously, he communicated to some of his own. he took out his blue pencil and marked it up quite a lot. so, that was one, and that was one that i think will not surprise. you but the one that i think will surprise you is also that term, it was the place called trois-rivières. it was a group of hispanic employees they got an
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employment discrimination suit. and they had lost and they filed an appeal in the secretary to the lawyer handling the appeal left out one of their names on the notice of appeal and that went up to the court. and the question was whether leaving out that name was going to mean that the court had no direct stick shun to hear the appeal of this one employee of the group. and all the colors that thought that this was an easy case they thought, this should be this is just a secretarial mishap, and you're going to deprive this man from his claim? what a crazy thing. and in fact, justice -- thought that this was crazy. and justice brennan dissented from that case, but justice marshall ended up writing the opinion for the court in that case. saying only that this in fact was a court issue, and leaving
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out the name it all the difference. the court did not have jurisdiction to take the appeal. this is what he said to us. he said, i spent my whole life litigating cases, and you cannot expect anybody to bend the rules for you, the only thing you can expect is that is that the apply the rules straight. and indeed, indeed people, you know, people who litigated like i litigated, their salvation was in the rules. i mean, if he had a chance for success, it was because of the rules and because people decided to take those rules seriously. the rules of law and plain by the rules was to was one of the most important principles in the justice system. and sometimes it worked against you and they put in the wrong name but in the end, especially
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for people who were disliked and who were disadvantaged, they needed the rules and so you better make sure that you've created a system where the rules are there. and, i don't think he convinced the single one of us, honestly. but it was a powerful lesson for me, actually, as much or more so as a listening to him talk about serena kind of mass on the bus and the importance of education and the importance of eradicating it inequality. this too was as powerful or more powerful lesson about the importance of rules and of law in our society and even when sometimes it doesn't cut your way. >> sure, the one decision that he was most passionate about our term was richmond versus --
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which was the case in which the case first adopted scrutiny as a racial classification for affirmative affirmative action racial classification which involve municipal contracting in richmond, virginia. and he was very distressed by the outcome there. one of the things that was interesting to me was not just fundamental point that affirmative action is different from official racism. but his focus again on the facts and he said to me, as the clerk assigned to the system on the case, i want to make sure that in the very first part of the decision to, the very first paragraph that we make the point that this is the capital of the confederacy and i want to make the point that it's something how ironic here about the capitol confederacy bending over backwards to do something progressive about race and then getting sank out. and i was a refrain that we saw throughout the year. he was deeply knowledgeable historian name wanted to make sure that what came out of his
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chambers was rich in history and rich and social context and not arid. that's one of the distinct memories i have. >> my favorite case, my favorite opinion from the justice concurring opinion was concurring opinion in a case called bats in versus kentucky. and in bats and versus kentucky, the supreme court of the united states reversed an earlier opinion, swain versus alabama. in swain versus alabama, the court said that challenges, how a prosecutors use of peremptory challenges was immune from question in the case, the defense attorneys had wanted to challenge the prosecutors use of the challenge saying that it was -- that they had been raised on race and the court said, well, prairie challenges are just immune from question.
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if a prosecutors using a challenge for trial related reasons, any reason whatsoever that's okay. well, two things about bats and versus kentucky. first of all, patent versus kentucky was triggered by the justices use of this sense from denial of social rise. so typically, people want to pay any attention to that but the justice issued dissent after dissent after dissent, basically twirler the bar that at least there were a couple of justices, here in particular that was interested in the issue. and secondly, i think to educate and try to persuade his colleagues. and, over the course of the year, he succeeded. he succeeded in persuading other justices to come along with him and he triggered the
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-- he triggered a reassessment of swimmers is alabama. a now the court agreed with his position, agreed to reverse swing versus alabama, but then the justice wasn't satisfied with that. and he wrote a concurring opinion in which he said, i agree with what the court is doing, but the court is not going far enough, it should get rid of peremptory challenges altogether. and it was that pushing of the envelope that brings a smile to my face and makes me think of -- that's the justice thurgood marshall cat eye revere. since you mentioned two sorts of opinions, i'll mention one other. it's not just one opinion, it's a series. so, justice marshall came to the conclusion that capital
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punishment is in all circumstances in violation of constitutional standards. so he descended in all capital punishment cases and which somebody was sentenced to death. and that stand to his a stand that makes me salute him. >> let me ask you to elaborate about, that, randy because justice marshall and justice brenton reiterated that dissent, just as you said, in every case that came along. as opposed to -- that when something is settled and you've dissented or maybe even reiterated the dissent wants that, that's it. do you think is this because it will trust us marshal or because it was capital punishment or because it was a philosophical difference about? i think >> i think was largely because it was capital punishment and justice marshal
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was such an unusual person. he had such a broad, long ferried career. he had represented people who faced capital punishment and indeed, he had represented people who were executed, they who are not to be executed. he's a person who represented people who were put to death, the one fact they were factually innocent. and i think that had something to do with the fervency, the passion with which he saw this particular issue. there were men several issues in which he was deeply impassioned but none more so then the question of the government taking someone's life. >> can i jump in on that? i think it also reflects a deeper view of that story that he had, after all, he was the lawyer who got play c reversed in brown and i think he would
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say to us, this is a living constitution and when it matters, we ought to not feel impeded from reassessing. if you look at the speech he gave on the bicentennial of the constitution, he says exactly that and that the glory of the constitution is, it's amanda bitterly, that it was refreshed in 1868, that it took too long a time but that eventually the court got it right. and so, absolutely, the capital punishment based on his home personal experience as a criminal defense lawyer was something that i care deeply about. but there's also a philosophical or not to be, i think locked into what he regarded as a wrong decision. >> i'm not sure everyone's failure where that the justice spent by far the better part of his -- large part of his career trying to try criminal cases. defending rape and murder
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charges. time after time in very unsafe venues for him. >> i remember once he said to us, well, when a jury brought back the sentence of life imprisonment, that's when he absolutely knew that the guy was innocent. >> he told a lot of stories about that period and others on his life. and i'm not sure whether this was true when you were all clear king for him but his practice when i was there with bill brison and karen hasty williams was to come back from lunch, come into the clerks little bullpen, three of us in that room, sit down in and easy chair and just start talking. for maybe 30 or 45 minutes virtually every day. and telling stories.
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and there was some reputation over the course of the year, but he had a huge repertoire. it wasn't a lot. and those stories were unforgettable. was he doing that when you were there? >> he did. he didn't so much coming to the clerk's office but we would go into his office when we would talk about cases and the way typically worked is we would talk about whatever was on the court schedule, many more cases that are now on the court schedule about 140 -- >> one 61 i was there. >> and we will talk about the cases and then at some point we would be finished and he would segue to what was sort of story time and justice marshals chambers and it was quite the most unforgettable experience and my one regret of the year
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was that not one of us was smart enough to write them all down, because i'm sure i had forgotten 95% of them. and i'll tell you, doug, i don't think he ever repeated one. you know, it was remarkable. it was a remarkable how many stories he had and how he kind of remembered, which he had been through before. but, a lot of them i couldn't begin to capture a lot of it. i mean, he really was the greatest storyteller i've ever come across. and, you know, it was a real kind of make you laugh, make you weep because a lot of the stories he told were pretty rough, pretty hard. and they were stories about his boyhood, they were stories about what it had been like to crisscross the jim crow south as a trial lawyer.
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often fearing physical danger from mobs, from the police, i mean, they were terrible stories, a lot of them. but, he also was a great comic storyteller and a great comic generally. i mean, he was so darn funny and his facial expressions and his intonations. and sometimes you are kind of laughing when you thought, what am i laughing about? this is a horrible story. but it was an unforgettable experience that both the content of the stories he had to tell and just, you know, listening to a master storyteller tell them. >> i will elaborate on that. of all the stories he told which we spend brown and illegal theorizing and strategizing, the stuff that sticks in my mind today is the physical courage of being a
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criminal defense attorney in mississippi, alabama, western florida and the physical risky took about almost getting lynched once himself. he told a story about clients who were lynched. he told of arriving at bus or train stations that had to be tucked into the back seat of the car so that he could be driven to a supporters home, aside on cnn and sometimes move to wiser once in the middle of the night to another home just to stay safe. and all the while, as elena said, he's telling jokes about this. so, i remember one time he said to us, how can you tell -- there's an easy way to tell if a confession has been coerced. asked the question, how big was the cop? and then another time, he tells a story about joking with another member of his legal team about who was going to sleep nearest the window in case a bomb got throw in. and he's making this funny and these are horrifying stories
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but it was part of the way he true un andrew out the stories but, if you haven't read devil in the grove, that's probably the single best opportunity to capture all of these stories or many of them in about a 200-page right up and it captures really what it was like for him to have almost he's to kill a mockingbird moments as a defense attorney in the south in the forties and early fifties. >> the story that i remember the most is story about his experience in tennessee after world war ii. there was a black veterans defending themselves, resorted to arms, they were charged with various crimes, he went and defended them, got most of them off the local police got really angry with him, he's leaving
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the courthouse, he's with another lawyer by the name of the alexander lou b. and so, justice marshall is driving and the police, local police pull him over and hustle him into their car. and the police tell z alexander lupita stop. stop following the police. and he just follows and follows and according to justice marshall, he thought he was a goner for sure. he thought that the police were going to turn him over to the ku klux klan and then they got cold feet because see alexander libby was followed. so then they go back to town and they charge him, they charge justice marshall with driving under the influence and they go to a local magistrate and to local magistrate size, well, why are you bringing this man here and the police say,
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well, this man was driving under the influence. and the magistrate says, i can tell right away the way this man was driving under the influence any tells justice marshal, breathe into my face. and so justice marshall accident he says -- and the man doesn't flinch, he says, this man has not touched a drop of whiskey. release him. justice marshall gets in the car, drives off, that's where he's going, calls the naacp and says, you know white? i had not touched any whiskey before, but now i am about to get drawn. again, so a horrible story. it's also a true story. there's a very nice book about this particular event but he always would punctuated with
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his own brand of humor. >> i will contribute a couple. the stories you say, some of them are just harsh, hard. but not in the language, necessarily or anything like that or even the events but one was, i think it was a rape trial in florida, black defendant, white complainant. and the jury went to deliberate and the prosecutor came over to justice marshall and said to him, you see the bailiff over there? lighting the cigar? yeah, i see him. what about him? i'll bet you five dollars that jury comes in within two minutes of the time, he
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finishes that cigar. so, what's that got to do with anything? how long to take to smoke a cigar? well, those dreaming have been sitting there all day, i'm sure they like to have a cigar to. that's the kind of story. it stays with you. the other one was about, i think it's in one of the books, it might be in lawrence fish parents play, i'm not sure. he came out of the courthouse i think in texas, about an hours drive from dallas and so he was driving in mourning, being driven there and picked up by highway patrol -- and then when he came out at the end of the day, it was also a police car there and followed him to someplace halfway back to dallas. and then dropped off.
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and when this up in the second day, he got to the courthouse, he went back to talk to the driver of the police car, said what is going on? i mean, describe just what i described the sheriff's deputy said, sheriff says you are not to get killed in this county. what was your first impression monument the justice? >> my first conversation with the justice asked really came before i met him. at that time, he picked clerks without interviewing them. he had some former clerks who did his clerkship selection so i'd been through their process and he had decided to making a job offer and he called the. it was december after i graduated from law school and he called me and, i remember
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the call actually came into the office and we have to run and find me and get me and i came back and found a phone and finally got him on the phone and he said, so you want a job? and i said, i love a job. and he said, what's that? you already have a job? and i was like, oh my gosh, he didn't hear me. no, i just said i'd love a job. i want this job. and i don't have a job. i don't know if you ever have a job. and this went on three or four times before it was like, i figured it out and he took pity on me i'm not sure which happen first. but the only other thing i remember about that conversation before he hung up
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the phone was, i hope you like writing the sense. and we did right our share of the sense that year. >> must make you feel special, let me tell you. i was in the office when he played that on another clerk. >> what about your first impression, paul or randall? >> similar phone call without they already already have a job. he said to me, we still want the job? and i said yes. get ready right to sense. and then he got off the phone and i was so marcia law firm study for the bar this all happened maybe 35 seconds. they're just quality of somebody just pulled a prank on me, i have no idea if this really happened. and spend the next hour trying to figure out where you're going to washington that confirmed that thurgood marshall i was just made your
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job offer. >> i had a similar telephone call. i remember the first time i a justice marshal face to face and i was very nervous about it. very nervous. because, and the reason -- it's a big deal, meaning a justice. the person you're going to work for. but, it was even bigger than that for me because i had heard about thurgood marshall all my life. i heard about thurgood marshall all my life because my father in columbia, south carolina, want to see justice marshall argue a case. rice versus elmore. he was one of the last of the white primary cases. and throughout my childhood, i heard my father talk about the importance of that case for him. now, my dad did know what the
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legal issue, the big legal issue, state action issue but he didn't pay any attention to that. the thing that my father talked about over and over and over again was that the judges in the courtroom called thurgood marshall mister marshall. and the reason why that was so significant was that because of jim crow etiquette, black men were not referred to as mr.. if you are black physician, you might be called doctor so-and-so. you are black minister, you might be called reverend so-and-so. but typically, black man did not get the honorific, mr.. and it was a sign of how distinguished thurgood marshall
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wise. that the judges and the other lawyers called him mr. marshall. i heard about that all the time growing up. and so with that backdrop, of course, it was a tremendous thrill. >> was a part of why become a lawyer? >> in part, i'm sure. my father -- again, i'm sure that it influence my brother, i have an older brother who is a lawyer. but, we heard about that argument i 100 times i. >> i don't know whether it's in one of the books but the justice needed when he was practicing, he was in early fifties any written of some sort. i needed to see the chief
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justice and chief justice was about to be found. but he knocked out the door and in the hotel and connecticut because the big conventions, no one i mean? a case in connecticut, anyway. big hotel there mayflower. somebody giving him a tip. there was the chief justice playing volker. he was playing poker with president truman and two other men. i don't know who they were. he went over to the chest chief justice must of that half a david, the chief justice looked up and said, mister marshall is all this true? and he said yes sir. signed the paper. left. never noticed that it was the president in the room. [laughs] never said anything to me, or
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if you noticed he never said anything to him. learn about that afterwards. [laughs] . >> little bit more informal the way we did business back then. [laughs] >> thanks for telling that story with this quote, with the chief justice saying you've got the guts to open that door of got the guts to sign. >> much better thank you. any first impression when you first met him? >> on -- he was a large man and very impressive. found the views the get of a -- completely welcoming -- he was a tough boss and
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intimidating. and he definitely laid down how he wanted things done, and you knew how he wanted things done and you paid attention. so with the get-go any of that with me i was very attentive to him and over time i suppose the intimidation went away, but i always found him imposing. >> i think it was the combination of his physical stature, manner and just knowing of him as a historical figure essentially. that's what i think was so intimidating, or at least overwhelming at first. >> go ahead. >> i was just saying that as
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antipathy as he was, i think back on how accessible he was in the sense that you really understood what he was thinking about. cases he was thinking about, the historical events that he was we counting. he certainly didn't hide the ball, and he had roughest language, in the midst explicit language he would tell you, with the heroes where the villains, were the hit his advocacy. we have just seen -- he would share views about colleagues. he read us allowed the letter he was about to send to the chief justice sunday case one of the annual holiday party. i have a copy of this. essentially the following. dear chief, as usual i will not attend the annual christmas party. i still believe in the separation of church and state. so, he was letting us into the tent. so as imposing as he was, i
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appreciate as well that he gave us access to his take on just about everything. >> he cared a lot about what we thought about things. he listen to, us she asked us questions, there was a real dialogue between the clerks and the justice on, but gosh, did he know who was boss. sometimes you would get this treatment, he would point over to the wall where there is a commission and he would say, now what's over there? can you to go take a look at that? whose name is on that commission? and then he had this other thing. sometimes people would say, well you have to do acts, or why, or z, in that case had told you before, you have to vote for mr. torres. and he would say there's only things that i have to do. stay black and die.
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. he didn't repeat stories, but that expression he repeated a lot. >> he had another one that went along with that. so, i remember once arguing with him about a case and he said, thank you very much. put his hand up. let me try again. i did a couple of times and finally i said, mister marshall, let me just say, two years ago, you said this. and if you go the way that you want to go, that you are proposing to go, it'll be just completely contradicting what you said to do years ago. and he looks at me and he says, do i have to be a fool all my life? (laughter) (laughter) >> for a
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forget limited see about the stories i never heard of one of which he was the hero. i was just totally what happened. >> yes. he sort of had to look it up afterwards to find out. >> but he was not self aggrandizement in any way in his stories, but i think he very much wanted to pass on to us and ultimately well beyond us a real sense of what it was like for him. many years later, he desist -- ron williams, and talked about a lot of things. it talked about for publication before. i thought the only thing only jarring note in that whole book was a subtitle of the book, he was thurgood marshall, the american revolutionary. revolutionaries don't follow the rules, revolutionaries were
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out in the streets and he had no affection for people out in the streets. none. >> i'm sure randy has some thoughts on this, about his relationship with the civil rights movement generally. >> well, it was a complex one. on the one hand, he was mr. civil rights, and over a long period of time through just extraordinary work, amazing diligence, amazing persistence along with extraordinarily skill, created the groundwork for the civil rights revolution. at the same time, he viewed the world very much through a lawyers lens, and his way of doing things was to attack through the courts what he didn't like, have those things invalidated it and after they
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were invalidated then move. he was not a fan of direct action, and there was tension. i think it is documented, there was real tension between him, the students who were the people who engaged incidence. there was real tension between him and martin luther king jr.. there was tension. he respected them and they with good reason respected him, and to move the world in the way that the champions of the civil rights movement move to the world, they needed all sorts of people. needed division of labor, you needed people who saw things in different ways and pushed in different ways. but yeah, it was a complex
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relationship with some of the other members of the champions of racial justice. >> division of labor reminds me. there was one among the clerks in myers. division of labor among the clerks? >> what was? a >> bill brison took all the criminal and criminal procedure cases >> served him well? >> karen took all the civil rights and everything related cases, and i had what was left. (laughter) that was international case and, securities and labor. there was never a moment or a matter on which we had any disagreement or had to work out exactly what we wanted to say because we were completely on the same wave length. in that respect he was a
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conservative person. he wasn't trying to upset the securities laws. [laughs] or make waves just to make waves. >> the way he did it with us made it very clear very early on that we were to be looking over one another's shoulders. so early on he said, if i'm mad at one of you i'm mad with all of you. so we would look over one another's work and we were particularly conscious of his -- and he was completely intolerant of lateness. you could not be late about anything. one minute was too late. and so we sort of had our collective punishment. also want to say one of the things i remember about the year and it had to do with
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capital punishment. so on the night of an execution, there would always be one clerk who had to stick around for anything late breaking, and some of the time when everything had been done, the person who had to stick around had to call up the justice at his home. i did it a bunch, because my fellow clerks, all three of the other clerks were married. i was unmarried, and so i volunteered to stick around. nobody was looking for me. but on those evenings when i would call the house, i would pray (laughter), i would be praying that mrs. marshall would be answering and because
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made a big difference. the difference is this. if mrs. marshall answered the phone, the justice would come on and he would be very civil. he would be very nice, very polite, very civil. if she did not answer the phone and it got to him first, it could be a very tough conversation. i remember about the capital cases that his charge to us was not to execute formal dissent based on his categorical view. he said i want you to calm each of these cases to see if there any specific grounds under which we can get the state to reverse. this was not an abstract point for him. he wanted to save a life, and saw those phone calls also came with the question, have you dug into this, is there something specific about this case that we can save? >> this is one of my most vivid memories. for many reasons, the capital
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punishment work played and even more significant role in the courts than it does today. first off, there were more executions, so a week there would usually be several executions a week at that time. there were fewer procedural bars, so a lot of what we do now is, people on death row come up and there's no way to even hear the merits of the claims because since that time congress has put into place a whole lot of rules that mean that many, many more claims or procedurally barred than we were back then. i think the third time is that the death penalty law at that time was much less well developed, so you didn't have -- the rule out more open spaces in terms of what was allowed him was not allowed.
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so, there were really quite a lot of these executions were there was a very serious issue that remained open and that you could get to. randi talked about dissents from denial in one area of law, but i remember it wasn't just the typical thing that he and justice brennan used to do about how did it go again? just the one lighter? i forget how it went -- >> assistant with my -- >> yeah. but we spent, we drafted so many dissents from denial and death penalty cases that i would be surprised if we didn't do 25, 30 of them in a year. >> i must have been there, either i was completely oblivious or i was there john happy interim when there were no cases, 74 and 75, does that
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sound about right? >> yeah. >> okay. thank goodness. chilton, where are you? how much time do we have? do we have -- that's fine but instead of a question, wouldn't you just tell us about your favorite recollection of the year not just in chambers but of the year, they spent here. >> somebody else start in. this >> all-star. this is outside of chambers memory. holiday time, late one day, he told us that he was going to take us out to launch the following day at a seafood restaurant. we get into a car, we go to a seafood restaurant, we walk into the restaurant, he's leading the way. and as marshall walked into the packed dining room, you could
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see people begin to realize who walked in, and then slowly, one by one, and then they all got up and stood for him for maybe 60 seconds. he nodded and everyone sat down, but it was a moment allowed you to see him the way the world saw him, and to remind you that this was not your only supreme court justice, this is a living legend. there were moments through the year, elevator operators are tourists, or others who bumped into him, but that moment when he's out in the world, and you suddenly realize -- put aside what we've been talking about in the conference room, forget about story room, forget about the individual cases. this is the magnitude of the man. this is what he meant to our country. and i think we all saw again after he passed away, in his clark said the enormous honor of serving as an honor guard. we took a shift in the middle of the night as people streamed in over there in the foyer, and people who were overtly
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emotional, and are people bringing copies of brown versus board of ed and leaving it there. but you could sense just the gratitude and to him and the enormous space that he had occupied in our in -- the 20th century. so my story is really just having that window of an opportunity to look at him to others eyes. >> i guess i would echo that and say that probably the most enduring snapshot i have of that year as was on the very last day that i worked for him. because on that day, i mentioned earlier my father came to the court that day. the justice was very nice to my dad. talked about race versus elmore
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and seeing him, and they had a very nice talk and these two people who i revere, the memory of that is a deep memory to me. >> i also remember when my parents came to the court, and he was nicer to me that day than he ever than he was before (laughter) or since that was the only day i knew that he liked me. [laughs] >> well, thank you all for being here for this hour, and this tribute to the justice. i hope there will be many more in the future with others carrying their stories forward as long as we can. thank you. >> it was a privilege. (applause) >> my name is jim
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o'hara, and i am a member of the board and of the executive committee of the supreme court historical society. the society is deeply honored to be the host of tonight's national heritage lecture. a few observations before the evening is over. first, justice clayton, justice ginsburg, angela ire, professor kennedy, thank you for your insights and stories of your times with justice thurgood marshall. this is been a warm and wonderful evening, and i am honored to have been a part of it. the national heritage lecture is sponsored each year by the supreme court historical society, the white house historical society and united states capital historical society. since 1991, when justice anthony kennedy delivered
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arousing talk on president roosevelts 1937 court packing plan, the three organizations have rotated hosting duties each year. this evening's national heritage lecture is of course a celebration of justice thurgood marshall's 50 years after his ascension to the supreme court. the society and all of us here are deeply honored to be joined this evening by his wife, cecilia marshall, his son's thurgood marshall jr. and jon marshall, starter in law jean marshall and his grandson, edward patrick marshall. thank you so much for being here. and honoring us your with your
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presence. [applause] i think all of you for coming and please join us in the receptions in the east and west conference room, which are directly to your right as you leave the courtroom tonight. tonight, we will be serving two recipes from justice and mrs. marshall that are featured in the society's most recent publication, table for two. we are serving justice marshals maryland crab soup and mrs. marshals mango bread. copies of tables for nine are able at the societies gift shop along with many other books and many other gifts, you see on the ground floor of the court
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and will remain open for the reception tonight. ladies and gentlemen, the 2018 nasa renal heritage elector is now adjourned. [applause]
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next on lectures in history. gettysburg college prefecture, allen guelzo teachers a clan class on abraham lincoln. and the dred scott supreme court decision. his class is about 50 minutes. >> welcome once again to civil war era studies 205. introduction to the american civil war era. we are now in our third week? in this course and my, wet ground we have covered this far. we have more to cover the today, as we're coming up to the 18 fifties now, we're talking about the crises of the 18 fifties. they really began with a compromise of


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