J. Skelly Wright

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J. Skelly Wright
Jswright.jpg
Senior Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
June 1, 1986 – August 6, 1988
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
1978–1981
Preceded byDavid L. Bazelon
Succeeded byCarl E. McGowan
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
March 30, 1962 – June 1, 1986
Appointed byJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byE. Barrett Prettyman
Succeeded byDouglas H. Ginsburg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
In office
October 21, 1949 – April 15, 1962
Appointed byHarry S. Truman
Preceded byWayne G. Borah
Succeeded byFrank Burton Ellis
Personal details
Born
James Skelly Wright

(1911-01-14)January 14, 1911
New Orleans, Louisiana
DiedAugust 6, 1988(1988-08-06) (aged 77)
Bethesda, Maryland
EducationLoyola University New Orleans (Ph.B.)
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law (J.D.)

James Skelly Wright (January 14, 1911 – August 6, 1988) was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and previously was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Education and career[edit]

Born on January 14, 1911, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Wright received a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1931 from Loyola University New Orleans and a Juris Doctor in 1934 from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. He was a high school teacher in New Orleans from 1932 to 1936. He was a lecturer at Loyola University New Orleans from 1936 to 1937. He was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1937 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1946. He was a United States Coast Guard lieutenant commander from 1942 to 1945. He was in private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1946 to 1948.[1] He was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1948 to 1949.[2] He was faculty at the Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law from 1950 to 1962.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Wright received a recess appointment from President Harry S. Truman on October 21, 1949, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana vacated by Judge Wayne G. Borah. He was nominated to the same position by President Truman on January 5, 1950. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 8, 1950, and received his commission on March 9, 1950. His service terminated on April 15, 1962, due to elevation to the District of Columbia Circuit.[1]

Wright was nominated by President John F. Kennedy on February 2, 1962, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated by Judge E. Barrett Prettyman. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 28, 1962, and received his commission on March 30, 1962. He served as Chief Judge from 1978 to 1981. He served as a Judge of the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals from 1981 to 1987, serving as Chief Judge from 1982 to 1987. He assumed senior status on June 1, 1986. His service terminated on August 6, 1988, due to his death in the Westmoreland Hills neighborhood of Bethesda, Maryland.[1] Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote a memoriam for Judge Wright in the Harvard Law Review.[citation needed]

Notable cases[edit]

During his service with the Eastern District of Louisiana, Wright was an important leader during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. In 1960, he struck down twenty-nine segregation laws passed by the state legislature, which had also named a committee headed by then Representative Risley C. Triche of Napoleonville to take over operation of Orleans Parish public schools. Wright's first desegregation order had been for the Louisiana State University Law School in 1951. His vigorous enforcement of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), however, made him many enemies amongst the predominantly white political and business culture of New Orleans to the extent that his entire family was soon ostracized and isolated from much of New Orleans' society life.[3]

On the court of appeals, Wright helped to protect the rights of African-Americans in Hobson v. Hansen (eliminating "tracking systems" in schools), and interpreting the concept of contract unconscionability in order to prevent the exploitation of the poor in Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.[4] He created an implied warranty of habitability in Javins v. First National Realty Corp. (1970).[5]

Honor[edit]

The J. Skelly Wright Professorship at Yale Law School, currently held by Heather K. Gerken, is named in his honor.[6]

Notable former clerks[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d James Skelly Wright at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ "United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Louisiana - USAO-EDLA - Department of Justice". www.justice.gov.
  3. ^ Judge James Skelly Wright. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/skellywright_box.htm, accessed November 21, 2006.
  4. ^ James Wright. Answers.com. West's Encyclopedia of American Law, The Gale Group, Inc, 1998. http://www.answers.com/topic/james-wright, accessed November 22, 2006.
  5. ^ 428 F.2d 1071.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2009-02-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Wayne G. Borah
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
1950–1962
Succeeded by
Frank Burton Ellis
Preceded by
E. Barrett Prettyman
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
1962–1986
Succeeded by
Douglas H. Ginsburg
Preceded by
David L. Bazelon
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
1978–1981
Succeeded by
Carl E. McGowan