even one of his closest friends calls him “formal, almost excessively polite.” He has made the law his life and, in the service of it, is demanding of himself and those who work with him. He’s at the courthouse from 7 to 5 six days a week and insists that his law clerks keep pace with him. He expects lawyers to enter his courtroom prepared to go to trial, and has made procedural innovations to en. sure that they do. He is, according to some students of the federal bench, one of the great “managing judges,” one who believes that “justice delayed is often justice denied.” He is a professional. He is not passionate, but compassionate. He speaks slowly, with few gestures, and with such modesty as almost to be self-effacing. His beliefs, he says, are simple: equality and justice. Such principles are enough. If he is not certainly a great man, he is beyond doubt a good one, in the largest sense of that word. WILLIAM WAYNE JUSTICE: You ask about my background. I grew up in essentially a populist atmosphere. Henderson County . . . I don’t think they ever put any populists in office during the time when the movement was at its peak. But after [the populists] left the scene, a lot of their ideas permeated the economic and political thinking of the people. Now, my father would have deeply resented my calling him a populist. He maintained that he was a Democrat, and he would have been very displeased. But the practical effect [of his beliefs] was populist, in that he was for the “little un against the big un.” Somebody defined populism as a popular movement without intellectual content, but I think that is totally inaccurate. I’ve always regarded myself as a kind of populistnot [in] the specific programs the Populists were advocating back in 1890, but in an attitude toward life. I’ve always maintained that the little ones ought to have their chance, tooif that’s an expression of populism. I don’t know whether it is. . . . I told Barefoot Sanders sometime back in the late ’50s that I was a populist and he hee-hawed. He thought that was the funniest thing that he’d ever heard. But I’d read enough about [populism] to be very interested. . . . OBSERVER: Did your father believe in social justice as much as you do? Observer contributors Laura Richardson and Jo Clifton interviewed Judge Justice in September. They wish to thank University of Texas Law School student Deborah Herzberg and UT law professor Marshall Breger for helping them research the judge’s opinions. WWJ: Well, consider the fact that he was the son of a father who had been in the Confederate Home Guard at age 14. He had two uncles that fought in the Confederacythree, one was decorated posthumously. So you couldn’t expect it, no. He was an extremely compassionate person, and towards blacks he was very paternalistic. I can’t even estimate how many he represented without charge. But I couldn’t say that he believed in equality of the races, because he didn’t. OBSERVER: Why do you? WWJ: I think it was very early in life that I saw injustice. I remember when I was about seven or eight years old, I was playing with one of my white friends in a vacant lot. And a little black boy about our same age came along, and we were playing together. About that time there was a knock on the window. The mother of this other child was knocking on the window to attract our attention. My white friend went in to talk to his mother and he came back and told us he couldn’t play with niggers. So the little black boy went off. I think that might have been the first time that I decided that things weren’t exactly right . . . You know, any child growing up in a Deep South atmosphere is going to be aware that there’s something different between the racesbut I think that’s the first time I ever viewed it as something bad. I’ve often thought about it. . . . OBSERVER: Did you ever disagree openly with your father about racism? WWJ: No, we never did. Now, listen, I wasn’t that courageous. I conformed, largely, when I was practicing with my father there in Athens. I didn’t seek out blacks, didn’t take them to lunch with me. I conformed with the local mores. If that’s bad, it’s nevertheless the truth. I’m speaking of my early days. OBSERVER: Your father had some run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan, didn’t he? WNW:* Oh, yeah. I can remember when I was a boy about three years old seeing the Klan parade around the town square. [Several lawyers], not just my father, opposed the Klan, and fought it. The Klan never did achieve a majority in Henderson County . . . they didn’t get any of their people elected to office. My father was well-known for his opposition to the Klan and he began to get people on his juries [in the ’20s], causing trouble. He wasn’t losing cases, but he was beginning to get hung juries. And he realized that this couldn’t go on. He knew some Klansmen who were under obligation to him for past favors, so he sought one or two of them out and ascertained the identity of the secretary of the Klan in Henderson County. Turned out to be an old superannuated Baptist preacher. My father went to him in the dead of night, and they had a financial transaction. My father came away with a copy of all the current members of the Klan in Henderson County, and for the sum of, I think, $10 a month thereafter he got an up-to-date list. From that point on he was able to identify the Klansmen on jury panels and things went back to normalhe struck them off. That was self-preservation. OBSERVER: Many of your decisions have been extremely unpopular. WWJ: Granted. OBSERVER: Did your father ever have any similar problems? We understand he took touchy cases. WWJ: Oh, he took all kinds of unpopular cases. This was nothing new to me. OBSERVER: Have you been surprised by the furor that your decisions have aroused? WWJ: No, I knew what I was getting into by being a federal judge. I knew exactly what I was getting into. I’d been United States attorney for seven years, and I’d been watching federal judges and reading their decisions all along. I could pretty well foresee what was in store. It’s not been the most pleasant thing in the world, but it’s something I foresaw. OBSERVER: Many people say that in your voting rights and desegregation decisions you’re trying to change hearts and minds, rather than pursue mere legal opportunities. WWJ: Oh, I think I was complying strictly with the letter of the law in all of those decisions . . . I had very adequate Supreme Court authority for all my decisions in the field of desegregation. . . . I think history shows that people do change. Look at our schools now . . . I don’t think a judge can cure it [racial prejudice], butI’m speaking about the -whole governmental process, including the judiciaryI think if people are thrown together that they eventually get used to each other and they manage to cope with each other . . . Here in the United States it seems to have worked out pretty well. If they maintain sufficient pressure to achieve desegregation, it will eventually happen. OBSERVER: The degree of freedom given to district judges in formulating remedies in civil rights casesis that new? WWJ: Yes. OBSERVER: Is it welcome? WWJ: No. But it’s not going to go away if we don’t do something. OBSERVER: How did it come about? WWJ: Well, there are ingrained social attitudes. It’s very difficult to get people to change . . . they’re very recalcitrant. Some of the most arbitrary bodies I’ve ever run across were local school 4 JANUARY 20, 1978
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