Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Truths That Unfortunately Were Not, and Still Are Not, Sufficiently Self-Evident1

Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Truths That Unfortunately Were Not, and Still Are Not, Sufficiently Self-Evident1

Article excerpt

THESE REMARKS ARE DIFFICULT. Please regard them as conversations among friends, persons I admire, persons to whom I feel greatly indebted. Some of these remarks, in text and footnotes, are provocative. If they stimulate new inquiries, new courses of actions, and refreshed judgments, this hour will have been well spent. I hope they significantly aid in achieving one of our Nation's greatest challenges, i.e., to ensure that all its citizens truly enjoy the American Dream.

On this, my maiden voyage before my colleagues of this Society, I would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss any of a number of experiences this great Nation has given me. For example, I still relish my service under President Ford as secretary of the United States Department of Transportation between 1974 and 1977, immediately after the Watergate Scandal. Some issues dealt with then still, as does Brown v. Board of Education, profoundly affect our Nation's landscape today:

* For example, the construction of the Nation's interstate highway system, the world's greatest public works project, started in 1954, the year Brown was decided. By 1975, more than twenty years later, the highway system was not only still in the making, but also faced resistance from an increasingly powerful environmental movement. Today, continual renewal and refinement of the highway system balanced with environmentally friendly mass transportation is still a major item on the Nation's transportation agenda.3

* Another important issue in 1975 was deregulation of the airline, trucking, and railroad industries. While the leaders of the Progressive Era had welcomed increased governmental micromanagement of the Nation's economy, by 1975, 50 percent of our Nation's railroads were in, or near, bankruptcy. Also the hijacking of U.S. commercial airlines was an issue in 1975, and even a greater issue today. Also in 1975-76 the landing rights of the Concorde in the United States were still in dispute.

Each of these was a matter that I had far too little time to wrestle with but had to resolve, or at least set on a path of correct solution.

I would also have welcomed the opportunity to recall other facets of my fifty years as a practicing lawyer. No doubt this audience would be as engaged as I once was by a discussion of the Supreme Court's resolution of the Phillips case, decided in the same month, the same year as Brown, and the implications of that decision on today's natural gas reserves. The nuclear issues in the Diablo Canyon case and the Peach Bottom case still have effect on today's nuclear energy issues, including today's sufficiency of energy at prices consistent with the growth needs of this Nation.

Perhaps we could have discussed the efforts of commercial banks to engage in investment banking or nationwide banking in light of the Banking Act with which I struggled as an advocate before the Supreme Court in the security Pacific case.

I would even have welcomed the opportunity to remark upon my service as one of six senior counsel on the Warren Commission (the area was whether the Soviet Union or other foreign countries or other individuals had engaged in a conspiracy), especially since some with the 9/11 Commission these days hint at degrading the Warren Commission's work.

In any event, I look forward to sharing with you in the future the challenge of my current appointment on the appellate review panel for Military Commission Tribunals if there are convictions at Guantanamo Bay.

My designated topic today, however, is a specific subject assigned by my honored superior, Judge Louis Pollak, a very close, understanding friend. I have never been reckless enough to disregard the request of an Article III Judge. Thus, I address with you today the significance of Brown v. Board of Education; and, equally important, our Nation's progress since Brown became the law of the land in 1954.

I begin with a context. W.E. …

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