CHAPTER 40
THE GRAND FINALE

ON SUNDAY, June 13, 1971, the New York Times printed long excerpts from a secret, forty-seven-volume history of American involvement in Vietnam prepared by the Defense Department—the Pentagon Papers. Black was pleased to see an exposé of the whole long, sordid story, he said after reading about it in the next day’s Washington Post. After a second installment appeared that day in the Times, the Nixon administration moved to stop further publication. For the first time, the American government was trying to use the courts to censor news before it was printed. Further dissemination, it claimed, would cause “immediate and irreparable harm” to the national security. The government also sought to stop the Post’s version of the papers, which was published on June 18.

Black was stunned. “They’re actually stopping it. What’s happened to the idea of prior restraint?” he said before returning to the neurologist who could find no further reason for his headaches except calcium deposits in the blood vessels; he gave Black vitamins and painkillers, and told him the headaches would wear off. “Just like Republicans,” Black said afterward. “I’m not surprised. What else could you expect?” All his old foes had come together: Republicans, Nixon, those who opposed genuine freedom of the press. Black had always been horribly suspicious of Nixon. “Any man could grow in office,” Black said of the man he sometimes called “Tricky Dick. ” “But I never liked him since the Checkers speech,” back in 1952.

Nor had Black ever quite forgiven the press for the way he was treated in the aftermath of his appointment to the Court. “Hugo is still somewhat bitter, though in a way philosophical” about it, Drew Pearson noted in 1952 (adding, “However, Hugo says that the press has got to be protected just the

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Hugo Black: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition xi
  • Prologue- The Funeral xiii
  • I- The Early Years 1
  • Chapter 1- The Hill Country 3
  • Chapter 2- Birmingham 23
  • Chapter 3- Prosecutor 38
  • Chapter 4- Trial Lawyer 54
  • Chapter 5- The Parish House Murder 71
  • Chapter 6- The Hooded Order 89
  • Chapter 7- To the Senate 101
  • II- The Senate Years 123
  • Chapter 8- The Freshman 125
  • Chapter 9- "I Changed after I Got to Washington" 143
  • Chapter 10- A New Deal for Workers 154
  • Chapter 11- Cases and Depressions 167
  • Chapter 12- The Investigator Lobbyists and Public Utilities 175
  • Chapter 13- Portrait of a New Dealer 195
  • Chapter 14- Court-Packing and Working Hours 205
  • Chapter 15- "An Absolute Anomaly" 220
  • III- To the Supreme Court 231
  • Chapter 16- Choosing a Justice 233
  • Chapter 17- Hiding the Robes 247
  • IV- The Court Years, 1937–1949 265
  • Chapter 18- Junior Justice 267
  • Chapter 19- Finding His Niche 280
  • Chapter 20- One Judge, Two Courts 299
  • Chapter 21- "Hardships Are Part of War" 312
  • Chapter 22- Feuds and Allies 320
  • Chapter 23- Bombshell from Nuremberg 333
  • Chapter 24- The Great Design of a Written Constitution" 357
  • Chapter 25- Struggles 369
  • Chapter 26- In the Family 385
  • V- The Court Years, 1949–1962 403
  • Chapter 27- The Darkling Plain 405
  • Chapter 28- The Worst of Days 417
  • Chapter 29- Brown V. Board of Education 434
  • Chapter 30- "Books Are My Friends" 453
  • Chapter 31- The Justice Takes a Bride 465
  • Chapter 32- The People’s Teacher 478
  • Chapter 33- "There Are ‘Absolutes’ in Our Bill of Rights" 496
  • Chapter 34- The First Amendment with Passion 510
  • VI- The Court Years, 1962–1971 523
  • Chapter 35- Triumph 525
  • Chapter 36- Overtaken by Events 546
  • Chapter 37- Continuity and Change 560
  • Chapter 38- Continuity and Change 579
  • Chapter 39- In the Sunset 596
  • Chapter 40- The Grand Finale 621
  • Epilogue- Of Hugo and Me 634
  • Source Notes 641
  • Abbreviations for Sources Frequently Cited 643
  • Manuscript Collections 646
  • Interviews 648
  • Basic Source List 651
  • Notes 656
  • Permissions Acknowledgments 719
  • Index 721
  • About the Author 750
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