Story by Ken Krayeske • 2:45 PM EST
Jackson visited Egypt in December 1945. On their way home from the necropolis at Luxor, Jackson and his crew encountered an Egyptian funeral.
Justice Jackson wrote his most callous statements on race in his unpublished memos hashing out his position in Brown v. Board.
Jackson wanted to dissent because he thought that the court did not have the power that the NAACP was asking it to assume. According to notes by Jackson's assistant Elsie Douglas in the archives, at least Justice Harlan asked to see a copy of the March 15, 1954 prior to the release of the Brown decision on May 18, 1954.
Jackson started drafting his thoughts in December 1953, but only fragments of that draft exist. The first solid drafts arise on January 6, 1954, where he stated: "It seems instinctive with every race, faith, state or culture to resort to some isolating device to protect and perpetuate those qualities, real or fancied, which it particularly values in itself."
In wrestling with the limits of judicial authority in the United States, Jackson pondered the seismic shifts in American attitudes on race. "No informed person can be insensitive to the fact that the past few years have witnessed a profound change in the responsible and rational public opinion toward segregation and all related problems. The awful consequence of racial prejudice revealed by the post mortem upon the Nazi regime in Europe have caused a revulsion against the kind of racial feeling that was manifest in the Korematsu case."
Jackson's memos focus on whether or not the court has the power to desegregate schools, and whether or not a judicial decree would even matter. The March 1, 1954 version is not as a complete a statement as the March 15, 1954 version of this memo, Jackson lays out his most precise statements on race.
In Section IV, The Limits and Basis of Judicial Action, he traced the history of race relations as seen through the Supreme Court. "It is not, in my opinion, necessary or true to say that these earlier judges, many of whom were as sensitive to human values as any of us, were wrong in their own times."
While it seems optimistic to ask Jackson to critique Dred Scott as a manifesto for the KKK, one would hope that 100 years later, he would have the fortitude to label Taney's tweaking of the language of the enlightenment to justify slavery as patently wrong.
Jackson's respect for judicial precedent, founded on the mistaken historical assumptions of the differences between races, emerges in the next paragraph.
"It was that there were differences between the Negro and white races, viewed as a whole, such as to warrant separate classification and discrimination not only for their educational facilities but also for marriage," and a host of other public accommodations. Was Jackson blind to the illegality of education for blacks for much of American history, or did he merely chose to overlook this and purposely not reconcile the awful state of black schools with forced illiteracy?
Jackson:Part IV continued