To The Bench Via the Chair

A major confirmation fight is brewing over the replacement of a federal judge who was a civil rights hero

IN THE 1950S AND EARLY '60S, THE most bloodcurdling years of the civil rights movement, a great Southern judge, and there were not many of them, needed not only wisdom and fairness but a lot of nerve. Which is why Frank Johnson, a federal district judge who was equipped with all three, emerged as one of the heroes of that era. After the Eisenhower appointee declared that the segregated buses of Montgomery, Alabama, were illegal, his mother's house was partly destroyed by a bomb that was apparently meant for him. Undaunted, Johnson went on to apply Supreme Court antidiscrimination rulings to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!