Document Type



Deciding the Fate of Brown, 7 Green Bag (new series) 137 (2004)


I started work August 1 1953 as one of two law clerks for Justice Hugo L. Black of Alabama. The other clerk was David J. Vann, also from Alabama and now unfortunately deceased. I was from New York City, and I was startled to find that Washington, D.C. was a racially segregated city. I was even more surprised to see that the Supreme Court itself was 100% segregated. All of the secretaries and clerks were white, all of the messengers were black and so forth. David and I soon learned that the Court was in disarray, unable to decide Brown v. Board of Education, and suffering also from internal rifts caused by Justice Jackson’s unseemly public criticism of Justices Black and Douglas, and by the Court’s hasty special session to authorize the execution of the Rosenbergs. The latter left Justice Black outraged at what he believed was an egregiously illegal and improper action by the Court. In fact, Justice Black regularly had lunch with us in the Court’s public cafeteria rather than going to the Justices’ private dining room to have lunch with “them.”

Date of Authorship for this Version


Included in

Law Commons