David J. Garrow

David J. Garrow is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade.

Recent Articles

The Obscure Heroes Behind Congress’s Great Moment

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On Tuesday July 2, 1963, Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall caught an early morning flight to Dayton, Ohio. Six days before, Marshall’s boss, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, had appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to present the newly introduced civil-rights bill that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had committed himself to enacting during a powerful nationwide television address on June 11. The Kennedy brothers’ outspoken attachment to advancing racial equality was entirely newfound. For the first two years of the Kennedy administration, civil-rights activists had been repeatedly disappointed by the brothers’ unwillingness to live up to the promises John Kennedy had voiced during the 1960 presidential campaign. Only the horrific violence visited upon interracial groups of “Freedom Riders” in May 1961, as they sought desegregation of interstate bus stations, and white racists’ attacks upon federal officers during the...

She's No Roberts

One individual stands between Harriet Miers and a seat on the U. S. Supreme Court, and it's not Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, or Teddy Kennedy. It's newly confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts. Miers is no less qualified for a seat on the high court than were a host of recent justices. In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor's résumé as an Arizona judge and former state legislator was far from overwhelming. Ditto for David Souter's little-known New Hampshire pedigree in 1990, to say nothing of Clarence Thomas's record in 1991. In 1971, William Rehnquist was plucked from obscurity in the U. S. Department of Justice, and Lewis Powell, nominated at that same time, had, like Rehnquist, no judicial experience whatsoever. Go back a bit further and the list grows: Abe Fortas' primary qualification in 1965 was his special-buddy status with President Lyndon Johnson, and in 1962, Byron White was best known as a former football star who'd worked on John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign...