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tv   The Presidency Rawn James The Truman Court - Law the Limits of Loyalty  CSPAN  December 15, 2021 1:05am-2:11am EST

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ron james provided his answer in the truman court, law and the limits of loyalty. >> my name is steven i'm so direction are of program and marketing for the kansas city public library. welcome to this special trim and day, three days removed installment in our virtual signature event series. our guest tonight is ron james author of the soon to be released truman court, fall in limits of loyalty. james is a graduate of yale university and duke university school of law. hayes practiced in washington d.c. for the last two decades the author of two previous books, charles hamilton houston and the struggle to end segregation. and how war, purchase and harry truman desegregated america's military. before we get started want to mention two things. if at any point you have questions you can drop those
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in the chat and we'll get to as many of those as we can. if you are interested in purchasing the book, and i hope you will be, you could do so what you press.missouri.edu, that is you press.missouri.edu. if you use the code truman and 21 tonight you will receive 40% off the list price. so check it out. all right, let's get started. ron, thanks much for joining us today. quick thanks much for having me. i want to start by asking you, when the publisher reach out to me about this book the truman court i was at a loss to name anyone truman appointed. so reading the book i quickly change my tune and wondered why no one has told the story before.
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maybe more to the point when you discover there's a book tv written about the story? >> certainly. again it's good to be with you. having not been back to missouri since my last book i was able to spend some time in kansas city as well as independence. certainly without kansas city, no one else in missouri would have heard of harry s truman who provided his political base in the local affiliates when is out there a few years ago. i hope to be back soon. the idea of the book came to meet when i was researching my last book about how wars, protests and harry truman with the military. what we now know began to de- segregate america's military.
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was the first president in the post- civil rights era to openly express public to all white audience. about the plight of fellow american citizens of africa happened to be african-americans. about america's military which is the largest and most diverse institution. it kind of began with the researching branch with houston and marshall. them working to the judicial system. how harry truman became the first president to do what we now expect of our presidents. that is to use the judicial
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branch is often called franklin roosevelt epic struggles with the supreme court culminating in what became known as this court packing plan he the judicial reform. up until that time these the judiciary as a goal they would enact their policies with congress and active laws and hope the laws and policies would pass muster with the judicial branch. harry truman turn that on his head and for the first time he had a president who was using not just the supreme court but the federal judiciary taking full control of the department of justice to aggressively push his policies. that is so we expect them both major parties in the united states.
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it almost came out of necessity stately court was in at the time. i wonder if you can set the stage for us. go back to the end of the roosevelt administration. what was happening on the court that made this a special circumstance? >> on like truman nominees to the court, they are well known by many americans certain certainly anyone who suffer there with your law school. as a profound jurors in the joints and pillars of the west. they did not like each other. perhaps, they did not get along. they agreed on media policy but not in too much else.
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it is also a matter fact they personally came to dislike each other and areas really had to work closely together without the semblance that justices have now. they had clerks but not what we had today. they had to work more closely together. and suspect this the supreme court ended up with a few justices think that justice wanted to be president himself. therefore is perhaps skewing his vote had to be the finest
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writer ever on the supreme court. he slowed his writing ability intact. and he wanted to be president jackson just wants to beat chief justice. there's all these interesting battles happening so they cannot expect each other's vote. and have his term as vice president in 1945 had proved in midterms of made a mess of himself. >> so truman you mentioned early in the book, it took
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four and a half years before fdr got to appoint a justice. truman meant that number in the first four and half years appointed for, right? he starts with harold burton. seems like truman's approach, he is appointing friends, or people he knows. it's not necessary he's appointing these people because they will support them because they are friends or they support and politically, he has got his eye on -- he is thinking a step ahead. here's the legal steps we need to take to do to need to do. i need to find justice as a support that legal theory. is that more or less what he's trying to accomplish? >> he appoints harold burton which rightly made his first nomination to the court. this happened very early in truman's tenure. burton was a senator, most
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importantly was a republican senator. what americans understood then, just to contextualize briefly for everyone this is just the beginning of the gallup poll, the gold standard of pulling in the united states. and so the gallup poll one of the most important first poles was to ask americans do you think president truman should nominate a republican or a democrat to the supreme court? and we would likely have the justices are about the framing of the question because somehow are supposed to believe we are educated human beings here in america were an individual ceases to become a republican or democrat when he or she is confirmed to the supreme court. this is not to say the
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justices acted as a republican or democrat's they don't caucus that way, they do not meet or chanda certainly fundraisers or meetings with the party. but they have ideas. at this point in 1945 the average american were able to recognize it is okay for the nominees to the court to have these ideas. overwhelmingly republicans and democrats are told by gallup president truman should nominate to the court because we have all these nominations from franklin roosevelt with the democrats in court. amended 263 federal judges and four of them were republican. so, america paid attention to that. they said we should have a balance that should be political balance in the courts. so true they try to solidify the position as eight vice
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presidents suddenly sworn in to face a giant. the only president franklin roosevelt are only four term president. trying to solidify his political position not just with congress but the american people. part of the way he can do this is by recognizing maybe i should nominate somebody from the opposing party. so he nominated harold burton. for lack of a better term he was an upright just figure when he was a mayor of cleveland is known as a boy scout mayor. hit one of his claims to fame he appointed to run the police department there and help clean things up. because when he was elected mayor cleveland was a disaster. he not just clean up the crime but into the local government there. so the very successful nomination for harry truman. truman and harold burton
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they're friendly not the way his later nominees were friends print this was a political masterpiece by the president who is viewed by millions of americans who was the senator from missouri, and other senators refuse some other centers refused to recognize him as a senator. even some senior staffer said he sent over here bite gangsters. and then he was elected in his own right and strongly reelected to be the senator from missouri. and chosen by the first, second and possibly even his third choice. but harry truman had supported he had supported roosevelt's court packing plan. that was famous.
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everyone can get along with senator truman, he can be on the ticket because he did not oppose my judicial reforms. in truman becomes a president suddenly. uses this first nomination as a chance to seek some political unity. not just in washington but america as a whole. because americans then were led to openly say there should be a republican or democrat nominee to the court. >> one of the things i really liked about the book is a truman court story is great. there's also these little bits of history that are dropped in. sometimes relevant, sometimes sidebars. just how much has changed and how much hasn't changed. and one of the things that comes to mind, you write in the book truman and burton shared a belief the government should protect americans from
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subversive threats. even at the expense of their individual liberties. was that a common thing at a time for a democrat and republican to agree on something that profound? >> it became more prominent with the rise and perceived rise of communism in the 1930s. there were legitimate concerns in the late 1930s and going forward about not necessarily communist infiltration of the government but communist activism and the united states. that was something members of both parties not all members but some members both political major parties were able to find common ground on agreeing there would be some cost to suppressing this
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rising movement but we must suppress this communist movement. senator burton and then senator truman found common ground. when truman was president, he understood how senator burton felt about those issues. it proved to be a good choice going forward into the 1940s during the truman administration. we went if i recall correctly at the time there was one republican left on the court, correct? >> burton too? >> yes it was eight -- one. that was part of what the americans were talking your average american citizen is thinking that they were frustrated they saw the frustration and it became an enormous deal he wanted to enlarge the court. now we have eight votes of democratic nominees and one vote of republican nominees.
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it's a move towards restoring some balance on the court. there is a good chance for the very new president he took full advantage of it was a political masterstroke for him. >> host: so right out of the gate truman sets the stage for his involvement with the court when burton is sworn in, truman's in the building, right? he is there in the room this is the first time a president has done this? >> guest: that's right the first time ever the sitting president walked into the supreme court when it was in session. it was for then centered of the new justices sarah swart swearing and he'd already been sworn and officially but the ceremonial swearing in. all the justices, the clerk of the court called everyone to order told everyone to rise. in all the sudden to
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everyone's surprise harry truman comes into the side door. and sits down behind the counsel table, sits down behind the bar it's the bar and sits there and he's congratulating everyone and having a great time. the justices are not there yet. so they come in before the justices. he's shaking hands and it's almost all men at that point. they're all taking and in the clerk calls the court to order and then the justice clement and harry truman rises with everyone else when the justice come in. they had the ceremonial swearing-in. that is when again for the third time stands up, calls everyone to order in the
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justices rise and harry truman exits and left the building to the article three branch of government. again it was an extraordinary moment of common for a showing for our government, showing of respect among the branches for our government. i thought was really something i had not read a whole bunch about. stuart was at a calculated move by truman? was he thinking at that time i am going to be there and show i'm not going to be pushed around or influence here or was he just supporting a colleague? >> i would say a bit of both. harry truman was extraordinarily astute politician. one does not come from where
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he came from having no job after returning with his infantry and living hit his in-laws house to become president of the united states without being an extraordinarily astute politician. at the craft he chose in in some ways actually chose him. secondly though, he so good at it is because he is such a great time doing it. he came in by all accounts he came into the supreme court room that day he had a grand time. i'm sure we will discuss later each time he sworn one of the justice he had a grand time doing it, he enjoyed it. enjoyed the people, he enjoyed having an effect on what he saw as a course for america and being at the center of it all.
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there's a chance i'll get strung up here there are some comparisons being drawn in turn most of previous presidents in terms of its kind of a bowl in the china cabinet they asked for registrations all accept them all and except the ones i want to accept. resignations to the appointee. what appears as the sudden death have an idea of how sick
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of franklin roosevelt was. this is not someone to which cast a ballot for a fourth term for franklin roosevelt had no idea how sick he was. they are stunned by that people of different races crying in the streets are grown men and women crying in the streets for the loss of this man. and then we get the senator from missouri who comes in who comes later and has nothing to do with it, and harry truman has that from when he came in. he wanted everyone's resignation and accepted those from whom he wanted to accept
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it. >> host: if you are going to use the supreme court to advance your agenda are hoping to use the supreme court to advance your agenda, you need to have solid backing in the justice department, right? hint truman takes steps they're also kind of getting an appointment that is close to him. that is tom clark. can't talk a little bit about heads the justice department? >> i do not want to leave you hanging on your previous analogy regarding the immediate past president. you don't get left out there on your own. that is something the better part of four years thinking about. many americans who thought harry truman was not up to the job he simply is not smart enough for the job.
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americans had an idea that certain type of personhood should be president of the united states. that person, especially after having elected franklin roosevelt for a fourth term had to have a certain pedigree a certain background so did calvin coolidge, franklin roosevelt herbert hoover who they threw out on his ear and suddenly we have harry truman who is using curse words. there are cartoons of women pulling their children away, the kids are kicking and scourges we have to leave now the president is talking. and so this idea we have this suddenly in the white house. truman was aware of that as
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well. i think it's more of a stylistic comparison and an example of a shock to the system if you take president obama and his harvard education you take franklin roosevelt with his bay nature and harvard education. suddenly it's flipped over its a shock to the system. i think it is an excellent point spent a good amount of time spent thinking about over the last couple of years, how that was a shock to americans reading their newspaper in listening to their radio saying who even is this guy in what is happening here? and he is in charge and we are at war. it kind of came to a head later times some part of what came to a head because the supreme court nominee as he began to nominate his friends.
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>> was a brings us to tom clark, one of his friends. he nominated tom clark to be attorney general of the president of the united states. tom clark, at the time was a year older than i am now. i am 44 now he was 45 at the time. clark admin and unexceptional law student and came to washington by accident franklin roosevelt wanted to hire tom clark's older brother was an exceptional law student, a big shot lawyer and for all accounts doing grand things and tom clark's older brother said no i'm doing very well here in texas. the senator from texas said to the white house we take his brother? they said send months and up they gave tom clark initially something of a lackey job and the department of justice. he worked his way up. what he might have lacked an
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academic ability he certainly made up for it and work ethic. he became an truman's attorney general and became very successful in being an aggressive attorney general. does not recognize he was not the best lawyer in the building. with the department of justice and say what can we do to advance the administration's agenda? now we expect that of our attorneys general. the president certainly expected it of the attorney general. but part of that the attorney general kind of what we think of now these lawyers think is the solicitor general. an absolute lawyer with impeccable credentials. you can get someone in there like president trump had senator jeff sessions and they're carrying out his agenda. president george w. bush had
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gonzalez. neither one had great legal minds. they were effective though and the time in which they were there in carrying out the president's agenda. i would contend that began in earnest with tom clark working for henry truman. >> we are going to come back to him because he becomes one of the supreme court appointees. but is truman thinking that at the time? >> there's every indication that he is. >> you get some traction immediately with abortion. the real moment for truman's vincent. this is the guy come if there is a treatment appointee that has a legacy that is probably him? >> yes. it's a stage in a sadly how
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literally unknown he is today among americans. at the time of his nomination for the chief justice ship, he was one of, if not the biggest names in washington. not including the president or him, but he held so many jobs of a monumental importance to the american economy. he had been treasury secretary. he had been director of the time as emergency management dealing with the war praise been a district appellate court judge for his been a member of the house of representatives from the state of kentucky. he was the supreme authority both houses recognize it's hard for the senate to recognize anywhere in the house it was as the authority
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on taxation. it is as a grand orator. one of the grant orders to be elected to congress. he was nominated to be chief justice by president truman, there were great expectations for him. the only nomination that great expectations on his shoulders and the time of his nomination was truly a public service. by allowing him to be commissioner but he turned down the job much to the chagrin of his beloved wife it's more money than ever lied about having in their life. one year, he was a base will
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play the day's a big baseball fan he was remembered in major league baseball and turned down the job because world war ii is happening at the time and he thought he should remain in service country. stu and if i remember right you set in the book was going to pay $100,000 a year his government salary was one was 20? >> that is the peak government salary at the time. even his fellow justices, the fellow justices appreciate the sacrifices he made even a douglas who had very little nice to say about fred vincent emmett's view of his other colleagues as well. he really appreciated the sacrifice fred vincent had made. because they knew he did not have very much in the way of
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money, finances, or insurance at that time. stu went vincent, if i recall correctly gets on the bench and then leaves the bents right? and goes back into bureaucracy. and then is nominated for supreme court, not as an appellate judge but as a cabinet member, right? >> he is on the bench. he nominated franklin roosevelt to the court of appeals. it was seen to this day and accurately so the second most important federal court in the united states. and then world war ii breaks out, franklin roosevelt says i need you. frankly vincent is here to get off the bench and participate more actively in the war effort. world war i america's involvement when the war ended just as vincent had finished basic training.
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he felt like he had missed out or world war i. so we wanted to contribute now in his later years in world war ii and a more direct manner. so he left his lifetime appointment with tenure in the pension and everything that comes with it agreed to become a cabinet member for franklin roosevelt hopscotch two different jobs. they stopped holding confirmation hearings for did stop holding votes for vincent. the white house but that nomination shoot down an office of emergency management. nominate for treasury secretary gets the most votes. they all knew him, they had voted on him so many times and said this is a matter of course for us. he was serving as a treasury
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secretary which was a job he loved her he loved that job. i think perhaps the only job you would've left it for would have been to be the chief justice. >> i hope the people will read the book. but if they don't, i hope they will do their own research on vincent. because this guy is such an incredible character in american history. in a base both he was a player president over the years would plug into whatever position and whatever job they sent him to he was tremendously successful right up to his stint as chief justice, right? >> he was nominated to continue that says success as chief justice. in part through some fault of his own. it is an extremely difficult job. i can see how difficult the
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job of chief justice is to be first among equals. that is a very nice save in pragmatic terms and practice it makes for a tough job. >> host: he was probably the guy that was needed, right? his predecessor as chief justice, stone very much and believed in debate and argument. vincent comes in to this environment where consensusbuilding had gone out the window. was he uniquely qualified to play that role? >> he seemed to believe to be he was not successful. again he did not take chief justice stone who had a superb legal mind and a fantastic a justice of the court. but not a very successful chief justice of the court. he was a former columbia law professor and he enjoyed
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debate. his debate style happened at the conference. they still do to this day, hammer out their ideas and thoughts on each individual case. no one else is allowed into this room the justice are there the junior justice who is now justice amy colbert. when they run out of water she goes it and fills the picture and goes get the water. when they need a book she goes out and get it. when there's a new justice he or she will have to do that because no one else is allowed it when they're having the debate. chief justice stone loved the conference. it would go hours he did not recognize it was ruining the court, justices were dying to get out of there. votes were not changing their having academic discussions.
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chief justice vincent was a master manager he had worked in the bureaucracy he was an excellent manager. he was able chief justice stone you were never able to get out of conference. so just imagine if you are meeting with your job and you can just never leave because the boss never let you go home. this is after the work week. you can imagine this but this is having on morale. fred vincent was interested in getting the vote. let's move on, next% what you wrote what your reason? he did have discipline in the conference. >> host: so i do not want to shortchange tom clark but we have a lot of audience questions and i've been moving a little slowly.
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so i wonder if we could lump the two of them together customer tom clark and this is where we are at a tipping point with a public and political pressure on truman for cronyism, right? speech that is right. it begins with tom clark who at least had been attorney general. and then continued. it reaches a frenzy, frenzy might be strong. it reaches a furor with justice sherman. served on the court of appeals for years and had an outstanding record. he's a former senator from indiana had been a hard core new deal even more than harry truman was representing the state in the middle of america's middle of the road when it was politically the
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right thing to do with the state constituency was. sherman was a rabid man. he was only elected to one term in the senate. that's tough to do these days to be a one term senate very tough back then. he was so fervent for the policies. that came back to haunt him even after he had served for years and distinguished himself on the court of appeals. so, by the time president truman had nominated had passed over tom clark. i thought to be the third third nominate when this vacancy came available president truman had called sherman to the white house to tell him in person that he is not nominating him. that's a bit of heartbreak hotel. you couldn't imagine going to the white house and, to be
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told i'm going to be nominate you get there to be told you're not going to be nominated. so he is not nominated, tom clark was for the fourth nomination truman did not consult with anyone. it's incredible heretofore nominations and he nominated sherman to the court. he did not serve long, but he was a force on the court because of his personality. he was kind of an explosive personality particularly in the area of civil rights. he would literally count on the table telling the justices they need to do the right thing. the constitution forces them to do the right thing. they need to essentially have some guts. in fact at one point they thought when they get to the brown case in 1952 the first argument some of the fellow justices sexually before that back in 49 and 50 they were
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worried he might have a heart attack during the conference he was so exercised over this and thought why are we debating these issues that are so clear under the constitution? >> host: there's also a story i think it was with clark maybe was what the width mention that may meet retrace my steps and think there are some pretty solid differences here as well. because truman asks the hail to the chiefs not be played for the swearing in of was it clark? because he wanted to be his day. >> guest: note that as chief justice of vincent. to put that in perspective for folks very briefly, harry truman did not have an inauguration when he became president. he was sworn in by the chief justice did not even have time to put on the robe. he was just wearing his suit. this is my own thought and
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reading into it from reading correspondence, my conclusion was truman decided he was going to give chief justice the inauguration he had not had. he had the swearing in at the white house. which it is still controversial to this day when presidents do that. but president truman did and had a huge party. in fact members of the public had come on through to the white house they had the band and everything. you are correct he asked hail to the chief not be played so the chief justice's day fred vincent was sworn in. i want to ask an audience question here but they want to know how to get back to the three powers of justice.
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how would you address that? how do we restore kind of the balance of the three branches of government? >> i would not say trying to change the balance of power. it was trying to bring in another player, which is the article three branch. but i agree with the premise of the question. we are out of balance. we are out of balance as a country. congress is supposed to be the most important, powerful is supposed be the most powerful branch of government that is where the constitution is written. congress had decided during the truman administration to
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receive this authority. so it's first duty is going to allow the president to have what he calls the police action. it was because he had his solicitor general arguing we are at war. he had the justices sitting back to him, the president said just last week this is not a war. and so the administration is tying itself and a notch. that is not as a result of congress not doing its job. since then as an advocate of that responsibility, the passing of the budget, congress does not pass a budget. it continues regiment resolution cycle on and on. you get the government shutdown that happens. the restoration of the balance of power has to happen in congress. were talking about the senate because the house boat or not, the house moves, the senate
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has stopped functioning fulfilling its basic responsibilities. think it's a matter of individuals, i've been watching this one for two decades now. private practice, local government, federal government its two individuals enjoy the lights out in not taking responsibility which they are supposed to do. if you get thrown at you get thrown out. sherman vincent was thrown out of office by the voters of indiana. you get thrown out find something else to do. that is how we restore balance. you cannot have three players and one player decides not to show up. >> that plays nicely into another question here. mentioned a recent interview you did with derek goldman. he mentioned congress might be the weakest branch of government right now. what can the people do? vote for different folks and
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things do not necessarily change. how do we affect change in the senate? >> it's a difficult will make a route. thomas is the weakest link. the branch is designed to be the strongest, that is going to be problematic. you get corralled into the gerrymandered districts that we had. the officials get to choose rather than the voters choosing officials. but again things with the senate. you just have to call these votes. i do not like what the current senate majority are, i think he's taking the time and running with it during the obama administration i am so flabbergasted by stating we
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are not even going to meet with a supreme court nominee. if you rewind the tape back, we get back to senator chuck schumer president george w. bush's nominee for the circuit court of appeals that we mentioned earlier but still is the second most powerful court in the united states. everyone who paid attention to these things knows if he got onto the d.c. court of appeals who end up on the supreme court unless something catastrophic happens. until the democrats decided we are not voting and chuck schumer at a press conference at what can you do to direct him to get a vote? and the senator said at the microphone, nothing. so to break down the process then, we would just end up in a very bad place.
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>> what do you think about the composition of the court with these three trumpet appointees? are you fearful of an extreme right shift of the court? or do you think it will be a more reserved and moved the right? >> first, i think president trump did, he actually did his job but if there is a vacancy you nominate someone. it's wrong of a president for not filling a vacancy on the court for any reason. whether it's 8:30 in the morning on january 20 here's my name here is the name and putting forward. my big problem right now if the court is almost with the description of the court. the discussion of the conservative justices and the liberal justices. no.
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there may be too liberal justices on the court. maybe justice kagan, justice soda mar, chief justice roberts is a conservative on the court. justice thomas is not a conservative. he is a right wing justice. he is trying to move the court he owned up to it we need to say what we are doing. justice thomas owns up to what he is trying to do. or he said the court just overturned the precedent and acted like it didn't. he is speaking with honesty i wish the others would. it's not the matter of conservatism to overturn that six or seven years old that's not conservative that's the opposite. when you try to move the court just say i'm trying to move the court because that's wrong. and justice thomas is one that
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disagrees with his position is very clear he's trying to move the corporate does not try to hide it and say it's not a conservative position i want to move this because i believe this was wrong when it was decided. i honestly think good and the people also think justice should make their opinions on bigger issues accessible to the regular newspaper reading of the american public. >> you see that a little bit with gorgeous into a lease on the topics that are important to him like the fourth amendment he will signal pretty clearly i want to change this and here's what i want you to bring me in order for me too do it. >> correct. correct. it's lazy for some of our leading commentators to consistently quote the liberal wing or the conservative wing, no, no that's not the situation.
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particularly, read the justice opinion and take them at their word when they are trying to do something. they are trying to tell you what they're trying to do. >> so some questions and getting more back to the topic of the book. somebody asked strong supporters of church/state separation rulings or controversial it's a big political issue now. can you discuss the truman court position on church/state separation? >> it was controversial because it was largely new. we have the beginning of many of the jehovah's witness cases and objections to policy. and so it's one of the courts of what we now call the culture wars. it's a very with the court
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tries to do would be to punch. i think that's the lazy way to put it they try to restrict their ruling to the facts that are presented that is why we have a larger ruling later with the school prayer cases and other things that happened during the war in court. many of those issues had been decided as and narrowly as possible during the truman times. that was due in no small part to justice who was the only jewish member of the court. who had great open prejudice, had a large voice on the court in that respect. i think the feelings of those issues but became larger later.
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>> somebody else asked what got you interested or to rank him against president and the last hundred years? >> president truman and researching my first book the legal struggle what we now call a civil rights movement outlined its weight in the courts and has had such an outside effect on it. particularly with the blinding was a subject of recent experience a cbs documentary which is a chance to see and encourages everyone. in no small part and i can say this now after 2021 big part of the last 12 years has allowed research about president truman.
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i thought 1948 i do not think i would've voted for him. done all of the research and everything i don't think i would've voted for harry truman in 1940. and that i think allows me a move to approach the subject. an approach the man. not just politically and political science major as an attorney. also american citizen getting life and getting older. i was 28 and i am 44 now. i find this highly intriguing subject where they ended up it's crucial we make our own
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luck. if there's anyone who has made us and look for the love of god is harry s truman. he's there in the right place putting in horrible hard work at every level whether it was in the mud, and missouri try to get money for the roads, or as a county judge or army captain. her whether a senator by a member of his own party in the united states senate and he is still showing up to work writing letters and being ignored and working and working for we find out years later okay fdr on the proposal for truman becomes the vice president he ends up president of the united states. quicksilver audience question and i'm going to ask a question to wrap up. someone asked how hands on it
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truman was in picking his supreme court justices, very, right? >> he had a list in his mind. in fact when tom clark came to him, when tom clark came to the oval office with a list he had a list of catholic nominees. his going to have a catholic nominee and harry truman did not even look at said no, no, no prime going to nominate you. he had it in his own mind of who was going to be the nominee to the court. they were going to be men they were all men at this time. they were men he knew and trusted. [laughter] one has got to count. it is incredible.
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>> throughout you leave two great narratives about how truman is the court. a couple of cases relate to unions and a couple create civil rights. we really do not have time to get too much into those. please buy the book or get it from the library, whatever. it is a fantastic read and you will learn so much. i'm wondering if you could, enclosing, summarize how truman used the supreme court to advance his civil rights agenda? >> truman was the first president to address the naacp. he became convinced particularly after the blinding of sgt isaac ordered, that something had to be done at the federal level to protect the rights of american citizens who happened to be african-american.
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he knew from his time in the senate as a democrat, nothing would be able to get through. and so he began to think two things, what can i do and he was able to do with desegregating america's military. and secondly what kind of my department of justice? in order to get things through with the department of justice, one, he needed a good manager at the top and he had tom clark. tom clark had good people. they were all on the side of the administration, pushing forward. not just defendant what the president had done but pushing forward to move the country forward by common law judges is common law, building on, law. federal district courts, federal appellate courts. he wanted to bring that to true fruition and in that
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again, he got lucky. he got four nominations, four men on the court who in this respect ended up not just going with the administration but helping to lead their fellow justices to what is right. there is still something we get to brown versus board of education but truman was not in the office at the time. during the truman presidency the court unanimously, consistency without equivocation very clearly written opinions and the literate american could understand, argued two other citizens the constitution guaranteed the rights of all american citizens. again if there's anyone who made his own luck, professionally and politically it was harry truman.
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he also did it traditionally as well with three justices and the sip chief justice to the supreme court. >> it is the adage luck or opportunity. >> guest: absolutely. so when i want to close was something i hope gives people hope in the supreme court will incorporate one of the things you're right in the prologue about truman's appointees is they often supported the president who had nominated them not out of a sense of loyalty but because they agree with his administration on critical questions of constitutional law. i wonder, how true is that today? do people worry too much about republican appointees are advancing a republican agenda and democratic appointees are advancing a democratic agenda? is that the case or are these administrations building bombs and arguments on a
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constitutional theory they share with the justices that are going to support them? >> i think in the results the fact major parties particularly the republican party are simply less ideologically diverse. even as recently as the 1970s the republican ship rockefeller republicans back then you had democrats who were segregationists and democrats from daley machine and chicago. it was not a matter of pushing forward it's what might be seen as a democratic agenda. the democratic agenda was so diverse back then. senator of georgia has a different agenda than the democratic mayor of chicago. for the republican governor of new
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t-mac and the judicial branch actually have to produce and that were going to have to agre. and besides, we had decisions for you and you can read this. congress just comes in and congressional leaders said with the congress. and i can tell you right now that i don't know printed the command and they come out and nothing is happened in the judicial branch because somebodt to run the government. and the judicial branch has to each year do this and we do that you going to make some people happy and we have the most powerful mass-producing and more
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and more someone will read. >> let have you back and just to talk more about the supreme court and
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