|United States Senator
November 8, 1954 – December 27, 1976
|Preceded by||Samuel W. Reynolds|
|Succeeded by||Edward Zorinsky|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 2nd district
January 3, 1953 – November 8, 1954
|Preceded by||Howard Buffett|
|Succeeded by||Jackson B. Chase|
|Born||Roman Lee Hruska
August 16, 1904
David City, Nebraska
|Died||April 25, 1999
|Spouse(s)||Victoria Kuncl Hruska|
Roman Hruska, Jr.
|Alma mater||University of Omaha
University of Chicago
Roman Lee Hruska (August 16, 1904 – April 25, 1999) was a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Nebraska. Hruska was known as one of the most vocal conservatives in the United States Senate during the 1960s and 1970s.
Hruska was also co-founder of the Douglas Theatre Company, based in Nebraska.
Life and career
Hruska was born in David City, Nebraska. His ancestors were Czech immigrants, and he was proud of his Czech heritage. He was a lifelong member of Sokol Omaha, American Sokol Organization, celebrating his Czech heritage.
Hruska's family moved to Omaha when he completed junior high school. He graduated from Tech High in North Omaha. He attended the University of Omaha and the University of Chicago and graduated from the Creighton University law school. He settled in Omaha, Nebraska and became a lawyer. He soon entered politics, becoming a member of the Douglas County, Nebraska board of commissioners. He served as a regular member from 1944 to 1945 and as chairman from 1945 to 1952. He was vice-president of the National Association of County Officials from 1951 to 1952, and served for a time as a member of the Nebraska Board of control and the board of regents of the University of Omaha.
Hruska was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the Omaha-dominated second district of Nebraska. He served only one term, as he ran for a United States Senate seat in 1954, which was vacated by the death of Hugh Butler. Hruska won, and was reelected in 1958, 1964 and 1970 and served in the Senate until his retirement in 1976. His opponent in 1958 and 1970 was Frank B. Morrison. Hruska did not run for reelection to a fourth full term.
Even after Nixon resigned, Hruska defended him and claimed Watergate only became a scandal as part of a partisan effort to attack Nixon.
Hruska became an influential member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. He voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though Congress was controlled by Democrats for his entire time in the Senate, he was known as a skillful legislator, and was said to have influenced much of the federal criminal justice system's changes during his era. He was the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee at the time of his retirement.
On October 10, 1978, President Carter signed into law a bill which renamed the Federal Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) located in Clay County, Nebraska after former Senator Roman L. Hruska. The Roman L. Hruska Federal Courthouse in Omaha is also named in his honor.
Hruska is best remembered in American political history for a 1970 speech he made to the Senate urging them to confirm the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court. Responding to criticism that Carswell had been a mediocre judge, Hruska claimed that:
- "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos."
Hruska moved back to Omaha in 1976, and lived there until his death. He spent many of his retirement years at his second home on the Platte River at Sokol Camp near Valley, Nebraska. On April 10, 1999, he fell, broke his hip, and died from complications during treatment. He was buried in Bohemian Cemetery in Omaha.
Hruska was married to Victoria Kuncl Hruska. They had three children: Jana, Quenton and Roman, Jr.
- "Hruska dead at 94". Columbus Telegram. 26 April 1999. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
- Roman L. Hruska Dies at 94; Leading Senate Conservative - New York Times Retrieved on September 13, 2008
- Roderick MacLeisch, Washington Post, Book on Carswell 'Brawl' Said Superb, published in Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 18, 1971
- Meriden (Connecticut) Morning Record, Mediocrity Not Necessary, April 4, 1970
- Art Buchwald, Support Your Mediocre Judge, Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator, March 26, 1970