Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark: A Life of Service

By Mimi Clark Gronlund | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Beyond the Goal

[Tom Clark] has achieved a splendid reputation for efficiency, legal
ability, industry and devotion to the high duties of his office.

Senator Tom Connally, 1943

BY MAY 1942, TOM CLARK’S ROLE in the Japanese internment was completed. More than five years had passed since he moved to Washington in anticipation of becoming an assistant attorney general, yet he had still not achieved that position, despite continuing efforts to do so. A promising opportunity occurred in September 1941 when Matt McGuire, the assistant to the attorney general—the third-highest position in the Department of Justice—was appointed a judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Senator Tom Connally, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Majority Leader John McCormack, and Congressman Lyndon Johnson were among those who recommended Tom Clark for the position. Roosevelt was noncommittal but said he would discuss the matter with Attorney General Biddle. A few weeks later, Jim Rowe, an administrative assistant to the president, was appointed. Rowe enjoyed a close relationship with FDR, and his influence was far greater than his official position indicated.

Tom Clark reacted graciously to the disappointing news. In a letter to Attorney General Biddle, he wrote: “In the appointment of Mr. Rowe, I know that you will have a man that will bring a vast experience to the office that I have not had the privilege of enjoying. He will make you an able ‘right hand man’ and I wish for both of you every success in your respective offices. If I can be of service to you, I trust that you will command me.”1

He also sent a congratulatory letter to Jim Rowe, who was a close friend of Lyndon Johnson’s. When the opening of the position was first

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