William Brevard Hand

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William Brevard Hand
Judge on United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
In office
September 22, 1971 – January 19, 1989

(Senior status, 1989–2006)

Nominated by Richard M. Nixon
Preceded by Daniel H. Thomas
Succeeded by Richard W. Vollmer, Jr.
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
In office
1981–1989
Preceded by Thomas Virgil Pittman
Succeeded by Alex T. Howard, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1924-01-18)January 18, 1924
Mobile, Alabama, USA
Died September 6, 2008(2008-09-06) (aged 84)
Mobile, Alabama
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Alabama

University of Alabama Law School

Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars World War II

William Brevard Hand (January 18, 1924 – September 6, 2008) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, Hand served from 1943 to 1946 in the United States Army during World War II. In 1947, he received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. In 1949, he was awarded his LL.B. from the University of Alabama School of Law. He was in private practice in Mobile, Alabama from 1949 to 1971.

Hand became involved in the Republican Party by 1962, when he supported James D. Martin of Gadsden for the U.S. Senate against the veteran Democrat J. Lister Hill of Montgomery. On July 26, 1971, Hand was nominated by U.S. President Richard M. Nixon to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama vacated by Daniel H. Thomas. Hand was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 21, 1971, and received his commission on September 22, 1971. He served as chief judge from 1981 to 1989 and assumed senior status on January 19, 1989.

Hand received national attention when he ruled for the plaintiffs in a case against the Alabama school board claiming that textbooks used in Alabama promoted secular humanism, and as such were in violation of the Establishment clause. In his 172-page ruling, he ordered the removal of forty-four texts across the state in subjects such as history and social studies.[1][2] The case was brought in Hand's district after his opinions regarding an 1982 school prayer ruling in Alabama. The Eleventh Circuit Court unanimously reversed him, with Judge Frank stating that Hand held a "misconception of the relationship between church and state mandated by the establishment clause," commenting also that the textbooks did not show "an attitude antagonistic to theistic belief. The message conveyed by these textbooks is one of neutrality: the textbooks neither endorse theistic religion as a system of belief, nor discredit it."[3]

Hand maintained senior status as a judge until his death in Mobile in 2008.

References[edit]

  1. ^ ABOUT EDUCATION; A MATTER OF CENSORSHIP, New York Times, 10 March 1987
  2. ^ Federal Court Finds Secular Humanism a Religion, Education Week, 11 March 1987
  3. ^ Ivers, Greg (1992). Redefining the First Freedom: The Supreme Court and the Consolidation of State Power, 1980-1990. Transaction Books. p. 47-48. ISBN 978-1560000549. 

Sources[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Daniel H. Thomas
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama

William Brevard Hand
1971–1989

Succeeded by
Richard W. Vollmer, Jr.
Preceded by
Thomas Virgil Pittman
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama

William Brevard Hand
1981–1989

Succeeded by
Alex T. Howard, Jr.