Julius Waties Waring

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Julius Waites Waring (July 27, 1880 – January 11, 1968) was a United States federal judge who played an important role in the early legal battles of the American Civil Rights Movement. Waring was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Edward Perry Waring and Anna Thomasine Waties. He graduated second in his class with an A.B. from College of Charleston in 1900. He married his first wife, Annie Waring, in 1913. Their only daughter was Anne Waring Warren, who died without children.

After divorcing his first wife and marrying the Northern socialite Elizabeth Waring (born Elizabeth Avery), Judge Waring quickly transitioned from a racial moderate to a proponent of radical change.[1] Speaking at a Harlem church, he proclaimed: "The cancer of segregation will never be cured by the sedative of gradualism."[1] He served as a Federal Judge assigned to the US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1942 to 1952 and heard several pivotal civil rights cases.

The descendent of Southern aristocrats and the son of a Confederate veteran, Waring was an advocate of civil rights early in his career. After he divorced his first wife and married outspoken northern civil rights advocate Elizabeth Avery Waring in 1945, he quickly took up a radical position on civil rights issues that he maintained throughout the remainder of his career. Political, editorial and social leaders in South Carolina continued to criticize and shun Judge Waring and his wife to the point where he ultimately resigned from the bench and left Charleston altogether in 1952 and moved to New York, where he died in office in 1968 at the age of 87. He is buried in the Waring family plot at Cemetery in Charleston.

Legal career[edit]

Waring read law in 1901 and passed the South Carolina bar exam in 1902. He was in private practice of law in Charleston from 1902 to 1942 and an Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of South Carolina from 1914 to 1921. He served as the City Attorney for Charleston from 1933 to 1942. In 1938, he served as the campaign manager for Democratic Senator Ellison D. "Cotton Ed" Smith.

Waring was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 18, 1941, to serve as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina, a seat vacated by Frank K. Myers. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 20, 1942, and received his commission on January 23, 1942. He served as chief judge from 1948 to 1952 and assumed senior status on February 15, 1952. As chief, Waring ended segregation seating in the courtroom and chose a black bailiff, John Fleming.

Isaac Woodard case[edit]

In 1946, Chief of Police Linwood Shull of Batesburg, South Carolina, and several other officers beat Isaac Woodard, a black man on his way home after serving over three years in the Navy, including repeatedly striking him in the eyes, blinding him. After it became clear that the state authorities of South Carolina would take no action against Shull, President Harry S Truman himself initiated a case - brought to the federal level on the grounds that the beating had occurred at a bus stop on federal property, and that at the time of the assault, Woodard was in uniform.

The case was presided over by Waring, but by all accounts the trial was a travesty. The local U.S. Attorney charged with handling the case failed to interview anyone except the bus driver, a decision that Waring believed was a gross dereliction of duty. The behavior of the defense was no better. The defense attorney at one point told the jury that "if you rule against Shull, then let this South Carolina secede again",[2] and he later shouted racial epithets at Woodard. The jury found Shull not guilty on all charges.

The failure to convict Shull was perceived as a political failure on the part of the Truman administration and Waring would later write of his disgust of the way the case was handled commenting, "I was shocked by the hypocrisy of my government...in submitting that disgraceful case...".[3]

Further race-based cases[edit]

In several other cases he ruled in favor of those who had challenged racist practices of the time, ruling that:

  • Equal pay must be guaranteed for otherwise equally qualified school teachers, regardless of their race.[citation needed]
  • In his 1946 ruling he held that “a Negro resident of South Carolina was entitled to the same opportunity and facilities afforded to white residents for obtaining a legal education by and in the state” and gave the state of South Carolina three options: that the University of South Carolina admit the palintiff John H. Wrighten,[4] that the state open a black law school or that the white law school at USC be closed. Rather than integrate the University of South Carolina or close it down, the South Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of a law school at South Carolina State - South Carolina State University School of Law.
  • Democratic Party officials throughout SC to open their rolls "with all deliberate speed" to all qualified voters, without regard to their race in the case of Herbert Fielding.

Briggs v. Elliott[edit]

In 1950 Waring was one of three judges to hear a school desegregation test case known as Briggs v. Elliott. Thurgood Marshall represented the plaintiffs against the Clarendon County, South Carolina, public schools which were described as separate but not at all equal. Though the plaintiffs lost the case before the three judge panel which voted 2-1 for the defendants, Waring's eloquent dissent, and his phrase, "Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" formed the legal foundation for the United States Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Additional reading[edit]

  • Mays, Benjamin Elijah (2003). Born to Rebel: An Autobiography. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. p. 380. ISBN 0-8203252-3-6. 
  • Yarborough, Tinsley E. (2001). A Passion for Justice: J. Waites Waring and Civil Rights. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 282. ISBN 0195147154. 
  • Shoemaker, Don (1957). With All Deliberate Speed: Segregation-Desegregation in Southern Schools. New York: Harper and Brothers. p. 206. ALIBRIS: 9022539968 ISBN unknown. 
  • Kluger, Richard (1975). Simple Justice: The history of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's struggle for equality. New York: Random House. p. 865. ISBN 1-4000-3061-7. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b David Southern, "Beyond Jim Crow Liberalism: Judge Waring's Fight Against Segregation in South Carolina, 1942-52", Journal of Negro History 66:3 (Fall, 1981) 209-27.
  2. ^ The Stan Iverson Memorial Library, Infoshop & Anarchist Archives
  3. ^ http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/tkam/community4.html
  4. ^ "John H. Wrighten, 75, Black Legal Figure" (obituary), NY Times, October 5,1996.

External links[edit]