John R. Brown (1910-1993): The Judge Who Charted the Course

By Schill, Gus A., Jr. | Houston Journal of International Law, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

John R. Brown (1910-1993): The Judge Who Charted the Course


Schill, Gus A., Jr., Houston Journal of International Law


Few people have the ability and opportunity to influence significantly both their profession and culture. John Robert Brown was such a person. He was an outstanding maritime lawyer, an innovative judicial administrator, and a federal judge who changed the way people thought and lived.

Born in Funk, Nebraska and a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Judge Brown attended law school at the University of Michigan. In 1932, he graduated number one in his class, and his grade point average remains the highest recorded at the law school. Realizing that there were few jobs in the depression-ridden Midwest, he and some recent law school graduates drove to Texas. Judge Brown started his career in Houston when he was hired by Newton Rayzor as a lawyer for Royston & Rayzor. With the exception of a three-year interruption for World War II military service, he remained with the firm until 1955.

Judge Brown entered the Army Air Corps in July 1942 as a second lieutenant. He was transferred to the Transportation Corps of the Army and became responsible for building and maintaining ports, a task in keeping with his maritime background. Serving in the South Pacific for three years, his final post was port commander in the Philippines. He earned a Bronze Star at the conclusion of the war and was promoted to the rank of major.

Returning to Houston, Judge Brown became recognized nationally and internationally for his legal abilities following the explosion of two ships at the Texas City port in April 1947. (1) In 1955, he was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which at that time included the southern tier of states stretching from Savannah, Georgia to El Paso, Texas. (2)

During his thirty-eight years on the bench, Judge Brown became an influential and distinguished federal judge. His talent for organization and administration in the pre-computer era led to innovative solutions for the rapidly increasing caseload of the court. These solutions were subsequently adopted by the entire federal court system. He created the summary calendar, allowing a case to be decided only on the basis of briefs submitted on behalf of the parties. He urged the adoption of the Fifth Circuit's Local Rule 21, which permits a case to be affirmed without a written opinion.

In addition to his reputation as a judicial administrator, Judge Brown is best known for his steps to further civil rights in the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education. (3) He believed that his most important opinion was his dissent in Gomillion v. Lightfoot. (4) The Supreme Court would later adopt the views expressed in Judge Brown's powerful dissent, which is widely regarded as the foundation for modern voting rights and redistricting laws. (5) Another important Judge Brown dissent occurred in Lincoln Mills v. Textile Workers Union. (6) His position was essentially adopted by the Supreme Court in an opinion that has become the basis for much current labor law. (7)

Judge Brown, joined by Judges John Minor Wisdom, Elbert P. Tuttle, and Richard T. Rives, enforced civil rights for all citizens in a series of decisions in the late 1950s and 1960s. They formed a group that prevailed in the face of turbulence in the American South and threats to their own safety. Their legal decisions struck down barriers of discrimination in voting rights, jury selection, education, and employment. Judge Brown wrote the 1962 Order that James Meredith be enrolled in the all-white University of Mississippi in opposition to Governor Ross Barnett's position. (8) At his death in 1993, the New York Times wrote that Judge Brown "played a major role in desegregation cases that transformed the South...."

From 1967 to 1979, Judge Brown was Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, the largest court in the English-speaking world at the time. He retired as Chief Judge at the age of 70, as required, but continued as an active and then senior judge until his death. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

John R. Brown (1910-1993): The Judge Who Charted the Course
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.