Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr.

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Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr.
District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
June 24, 1966 – December 1, 1985
Preceded by Seat Created
Succeeded by Douglas Preston Woodlock
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Elliot Richardson
Succeeded by Paul F. Markham
Personal details
Born (1920-06-20)June 20, 1920
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died September 16, 1999(1999-09-16) (aged 79)
Wellesley, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater College of the Holy Cross
Harvard Law School
Occupation Attorney

Wendell Arthur Garrity Jr. (June 20, 1920 – September 16, 1999) was a United States federal judge famous for issuing the 1974 order in Morgan v. Hennigan which mandated that Boston schools be desegregated by means of busing.


Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Garrity received an A.B. from The College of The Holy Cross in 1941, and was then a Sergeant in the United States Army during World War II, from 1943 to 1945. He received an LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1946, and served as a law clerk to Francis J.W. Ford of the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts from 1946-47.

Garrity entered private practice in Boston, Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts from 1947-48. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1948-50, lecturing in federal jurisdiction and procedure at Boston College Law School from 1950-51. He was in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1951-61. He was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1961-66.

On May 23, 1966, Garrity was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts created by 75 Stat. 80. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 24, 1966, and received his commission the same day. As a federal judge, Garrity was at the center of a contentious battle over desegregation busing in Boston from the 1970s to the 1980s. He found a recurring pattern of racial discrimination in the operation of the Boston public schools in a 1974 ruling. His ruling found the schools were unconstitutionally segregated.

As a remedy, he used a busing plan developed by the Massachusetts State Board of Education to implement the state's Racial Imbalance Law that had been passed by the Massachusetts state legislature a few years earlier, requiring any school with a student enrollment that was more than 50% white to be balanced according to race. The Boston School Committee consistently disobeyed orders from the state Board of Education. Garrity's ruling, upheld on appeal by conservative judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and by the Supreme Court led by Warren Burger, required school children to be brought to different schools to end segregation and led to the Boston busing crisis of 1974-88. By the final Garrity-decided court case in 1988, Garrity had assumed more control over a school system than any judge in American history.[1]

Opposition to desegregation exploded in some areas, particularly the largely Irish Catholic enclaves of Charlestown and South Boston, and spilled over into racial violence. Garrity became the target of death threats and at least two attempts on his life. He remained under guard 24 hours a day from 1974-78. He was scorned and snubbed by many; his name appeared in profane city graffiti; he was hanged in effigy, and demonstrators came to his home. Garrity assumed senior status on December 1, 1985, serving in that capacity until his death at his home in Wellesley, Massachusetts from cancer in 1999, aged 79. He was survived by his wife, four children, and eight grandchildren. He was survived by his wife, four children, and eight grandchildren.[2]


Garrity's brother was John T. Garrity, former Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, and his nephew is technology analyst, David Garrity.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York: Basic Books. pp. 252–64. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  2. ^ "Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. Is Dead at 79". The New York Times. 18 September 1999. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  3. ^ "John T. Garrity, 72, Management Expert". The New York Times. 1996-08-29. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Douglas P. Woodlock