The Warren Court and American Politics

By Lucas A. Powe Jr. | Go to book overview

chapter 9
To The Civil Rights Act

Like Eisenhower during the summer before the Little Rock crisis, the Kennedys did not believe there could be a situation necessitating federal troops. As Robert Kennedy, who would be the administration’s civil rights crisis-manager, stated: “I cannot conceive of this administration’s letting such a situation deteriorate to that level.”1

At the end of September 1962, after winning the inevitable court battle, James Meredith prepared to enroll as the first African-American at the University of Mississippi. Governor Ross Barnett had other ideas, and stated no school in Mississippi would be integrated while he was governor. “We will not drink from the cup of genocide.”2

Violence looked likely as white extremists arrived at Ole Miss by the truckload. Among them was retired Army General Edwin A. Walker, the man who now regretted leading the 101st Airborne into Little Rock just five years earlier. Walker urged southerners to “Bring your flags, your tents, and your skillets! It is time! Now or never!”3 The Kennedy administration moved federal marshals into Oxford and readied federal troops at Memphis.

Still holding to a policy of reasoning with Deep South politicians, the attorney general tried to negotiate a peaceful solution with Barnett and James Eastland. Kennedy believed that he had an agreement whereby Meredith would register and Barnett would be content to “just raise cain about it,”4 with state troops keeping the crowds under control. Because of the assurances, Kennedy had limited the number of marshals. More, many more, were needed.

The night of September 30, a crowd that peaked at 3,000 began to throw bricks and Molotov cocktails at the marshals, injuring eight. The marshals defended themselves with tear gas. Then the state police withdrew, gun shots sounded, and the riot ensued in earnest leaving three dead, a couple of hundred injured, and the marshals all too soon running

-217-

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The Warren Court and American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Supreme Court, 1935–1953 1
  • I Beginnings the 1953–1956 Jerms 19
  • Chapter 2 - Brown 27
  • Chapter 3 - Implementation 50
  • Chapter 4 - Domestic Security 75
  • Chapter 5 - Glimpses of the Future 104
  • II Stalemate the 1957–1961 Jerms 125
  • Chapter 6 - Domestic Security after Red Monday 135
  • Chapter 7 - Little Rock and Civil Rights 157
  • Chapter 8 - The Transition 179
  • III History's Warren Court the 1962–1968 Terms 207
  • Chapter 9 - To the Civil Rights Act 217
  • Chapter 10 - Revamping the Democratic Process 239
  • Chapter 11 - After the Civil Rights Act 272
  • Chapter 12 - Freedom of Expression 303
  • Chapter 13 - The End of Obscenity? 336
  • Chapter 14 - Church and State in a Pluralist Society 358
  • Chapter 15 - Policing the Police 379
  • Chapter 16 - Policing the Criminal Justice System 412
  • Chapter 17 - Wealth and Poverty 445
  • IV the Era Ends 463
  • Chapter 18 - The Last Year 467
  • Chapter 19 - What Was the Warren Court? 485
  • Chronology 503
  • Notes 511
  • Bibliography 533
  • Index of Cases 539
  • General Index 549
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