Two Bar Directors Spurn Choice of Hand for Court
The present head of the Massachusetts Bar Association and last year's past president argued last night that the interim appointment to the Supreme Court of Judge Learned Hand '93, proposed by two Law School professors Wednesday, would be "purposeless" and "should not be considered."
Joseph Schneider, current president of the association, agreed that it would be a "lovely but purposeless gesture," but maintained that since the 84-year-old judge would not have "enough time" to influence the court's thinking, the idea "has no practical chance" of being effective."
Samuel Sears, last year's head of the Bar, agreed that the judge is "wonderful," but felt that the President should appoint "someone who will stick," and that Hand "should not even be considered."
Three Yale Law School professors opposed these views and agreed with Robert Braucher, professor of Law, and Paul A. Freund, Charles Stebbins Fair-child Professor of Law, who suggested Hand.
Professor Arthur Corbin of Yale called Hand "the best we've got" and felt that he would serve with great credit. Professor Boris Bittker called the suggestion "marvelous," while a spokesman for the Yale Law School was "all for honoring Judge Hand in every way."
Another Yale law professor, Frederick Rodell, agreed with Schneider and Sears, referring to the proposed appointment as "a nice gesture, but rather silly; I think Judge Hand would agree." Rodell felt that only a private agreement between Hand and the President would enable the retired judge to be appointed on a temporary basis. He also believed that Hand would not accept the appointment.
Most of those interviewed agreed with Rodell that Hand "would have been an excellent choice twenty years ago." Schneider stated that the judge's appointment fifteen years ago "would have added lustre to the court." Bittker called him "the most eminent living American judge."
Hastie Choice Approved
The reactions of the six law experts to the suggestion of appointing Judge William Hastie, first Negro judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals, to the Supreme Court, varied as widely as their feelings toward Hand's appointment. Schneider called Hastie "one of the outstanding legal thinkers of his time," and claimed his appointment would be "a gesture to the non-while population that at least in the courts they are equal to whites."
Bittker called Hastie "a good choice," while Rodell admitted that he "would be better than some." Corbin maintained, however, that "the fact that he is black is not a reason to appoint him," and added that if Hastie were selected, "he would be put on as a political measure."
Braucher and Freund suggested that President Eisenhower appoint Hand or Hastie to the vacancy on the bench which will be created by the retirement of Sherman Minto next month. The two professors felt sure Hand could get the retired Congressional approval at the next session, which will start in January 1957.