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Senator J. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) called last night for resistance to "usurpation of power by the federal judiciary." In a speech at the Harvard Law Forum, he expressed concern with "the entire recent trend" of Supreme Court Activities.
Slashing out at the Court's decision on segregation, he charged that "Warren, Black, and possibly one or two other justices persuaded the Court to hand down an unconstitutional decision." He questioned the legality of the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, referring to "modern political authorities" such as David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News and World Report.
Citing the inadequacy of the federal system of checks and balances, he noted that executive appointment, legislative confirmation, and impeachment powers were the only controls over the judiciary. He clearly implied that he might support the latter course, and commented, "I'm not sure that the lower house would institute impeachment."
Thurmond also expressed concern over Constitutional usurpation by the other branches of the federal government. He cited Eisenhower's use of federal troops in Little Rock, and the enaction of civil rights legislation, which he characterized as "unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional."
He claimed that the Civil Rights Act was "rammed through" Congress by legislators interested in swaying the Negro vote in Northern urban-industrial states. Thurmond delayed the process last summer by filibustering before the Senate for 24 hours.
Thurmond described the jury trial clause as "an illegal amendment to the Constitution." This calls for a jury trial only for individuals sentenced to more than 45 days for contempt of court. He added that "it was to secure such rights as trial by jury that the colonies seceded from Great Britain."
Panelists addressing questions to Thurmond included Robert Braucher, professor of Law; Richard B. Dellheim, a lecturer on Constitutional Law at Boston University; and Father Robert F. Drinan, Dean of the Boston College Law School. The Forum was moderated by Fleming Jones, visiting professor of Law.
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