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Wisdom & Tirades. As the news spread through the South, the reaction was varied. In border states, e.g., Kansas and Oklahoma, officials calmly said that they expected segregation to be ended with little trouble. In Texas, Governor Allan Shivers said that his state will comply, but that it might "take years" to work out the details. From Virginia's Governor Thomas Stanley came a quiet, wise reaction. He carefully read the full opinion, then told reporters: "I shall call together . . . representatives of both state and local governments to consider the matter and work toward a plan which will be acceptable to our citizens and in keeping with the edict of the court. Views of leaders of both races will be invited . . ."
In South Carolina, old (75), adamant Governor James F. Byrnes was "shocked" but calm. The fanfare with which South Carolina changed its constitution to permit it to abandon its public schools had been interpreted as a warning to the Supreme Court. Now that the court has disregarded the warning, it remains to be seen whether South Carolina will actually carry out the threat.
The loudest roars came from Georgia, which also has a law under which it could abolish the public-school system. U.S. Senator Richard Russell, contending that the question of segregation should be decided by the legislative rather than the judicial branch of the Government, had his own label for the court's action: "A flagrant abuse of judicial power." Out of Georgia's statehouse came a tirade from Governor Herman Talmadge: "The United States Supreme Court . . . has blatantly ignored all law and precedent . . . and lowered itself to the level of common politics . . . The people of Georgia believe in, adhere to, and will fight for their right under the U.S. and Georgia constitutions to manage their own affairs . . . [We will] map a program to insure continued and permanent segregation of the races."
By legal maneuvers (e.g., test cases in court, redistricting), Herman Talmadge and others could continue segregation for some time. But they have little chance of making it permanent. The Supreme Court's decision was another vital chapter in one of the greatest success stories the world has ever known: the American Negro's 90-year rise from slavery. The Herman Talmadges are not going to write the last chapter of that story.
* Associate Justice Robert Jackson, recovering from a heart attack, had left the hospital that morning so all nine Justices could be present when the great decision was read. * Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have public-school segregation by specific law; four permit it. The 17: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Virginia and West Virginia. The four: Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming.