Civil Rights: True to Form

U.S. District Judge William Harold Cox, 63, is by every accounting a first-rate lawyer, a hard-working jurist—and a tried and true Mississippian (he roomed with Senator Eastland at Ole Miss) who, since his appointment by President Kennedy in 1961, has made a habit of deciding against the Federal Government in civil rights cases. Last week he did it again.

Before him were indictments against 17 men, including a sheriff and a deputy, in connection with the murder last June near Philadelphia, Miss., of three civil rights workers. One charge, a felony, was for conspiracy to deprive the victims of their...