Page images


MONDAY, JULY 12, 1965


Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee (composed of Senators Ervin, Eastland, and Hruska) met, pursuant to notice, at 10:40 a.m., in room 2300, New Senate Office Building, Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., presiding.

Present: Senators Ervin, Eastland (chairman of the full committee), and Hruska.

Also present: Senators Stennis, Hart, Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Javits.

Also present: Joseph A. Davis, chief clerk of the committee. (Present at this point: Senators Eastland, Ervin, Kennedy of Massachusetts, Hruska, and Javits.)

Senator ERVIN. The subcommittee will come to order.

The hearing this morning has been scheduled for the purpose of considering the nomination of James P. Coleman, of Mississippi, to be U.S. circuit judge for the fifth circuit, vice Ben F. Cameron, deceased.

Notice of this hearing was published in the Congressional Record, June 22, 1965, rescheduled July 7, 1965.

Senator Stennis, by formal notification, approves the nomination. Senator Eastland, by formal notification, approves the nomination. By letter dated June 23, 1965, the Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary of the American Bar Association states its members are unanimously of the opinion that the nominee is well qualified for the appointment.

By resolution adopted June 26, 1965, by the Mississippi State Bar, the nomination is approved and endorsed. (Letter and resolution are as follows:)


Boston, Mass., June 23, 1965.

Re James P. Coleman, Ackerman, Miss.


Chairman, United States Senate Judiciary Committee,
New Senate Office Building,
Washington, D.C.

DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: Thank you for your telegram affording this committee an opportunity to express an opinion or recommendation pertaining to the nomination of James P. Coleman, of Ackerman, Miss., for appointment as U.S. circuit judge for the fifth circuit.

Sincerely yours,

The members of our committee are unanimously of the opinion that Governor Coleman is well qualified for this appointment.

With best wishes.



Whereas, the Honorable J. P. Coleman has been nominated for membership on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; and

Whereas the Honorable J. P. Coleman has a particularly distinguished record as a district prosecuting attorney, as a circuit judge, as a member of the Mississippi Supreme Court, as attorney general, as Governor, and as an outstanding practicing attorney; and

Whereas the Honorable J. P. Coleman is possessed of those qualities and abilities which singularly equip him to render valuable service as a member of the court of appeals and to make a significant contribution to the administration of American justice: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Mississippi State Bar in convention assembled, That it hereby approves and endorses the nomination of the Honorable J. P. Coleman for membership on said court of appeals, and it respectfully urges the U.S. Senate promptly to vote its confirmation of said nomination; be it further

Resolved That a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate.

I, Alice Nevels, executive director, secretary-treasurer, of the Mississippi State Bar, certify that the foregoing constitutes a true, perfect, and correct copy of a certain resolution unanimously adopted by the Mississippi State Bar in annual convention duly convened assembled and held in the city of Biloxi, Harrison County, Miss., on the 26th day of June 1965, as the same appears in the convention minutes of the Mississippi State Bar of which I am official custodian. Certified this 26th day of June 1965

ALICE NEVELS, Executive Director, Secretary-Treasurer. (At this point in the proceedings Senator Hart entered the hearing room.)

Senator ERVIN. Governor, there has been filed with the subcommittee a statement of a biographical nature concerning you, and I do not know whether you have a copy of it there or not.

Mr. COLEMAN. Mr. Chairman, I do have a copy of it before me. Seneator ERVIN. I would like to ask you this question, whether or not you have examined that copy and whether it is correct. Mr. COLEMAN. It is correct sir.

Senator ERVIN. Then the copy of the biographical statement will be placed in the record at this point.

(Mr. Coleman's biographical sketch follows:)

Name: Coleman, James Plemon.

Born: January 9, 1914, Choctaw County, Miss.

Education: University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss., September 25, 1932, to June 1934, liberal arts student; September 1934 to December 1934 law school student; January 31, 1935 to February 22, 1939, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., LL.B. degree.

Bar: 1937, Mississippi.

Experience: January 3, 1935 to January 1940, secretary to Congressman Aaron L. Ford of Mississippi, Washington, D.C.; 1937 to 1940, private practice of law, Ackerman, Miss.; January 1, 1940 to October 1, 1946, district attorney for Fifth Circuit Court, District of Mississippi; January 1, 1947 to September 1950, circuit judge for Fifth Circuit Court, District of Mississippi; July 11 to October 19, 1950, commissioner of Supreme Court of Mississippi; October 1950 to 1956, attorney general of Mississippi; January 1956 to January 1960, Governor of Mississippi; January 1960 to January 1964, member of Mississippi Legislature; 1960 to 1965, private practice of law, Ackerman, Miss.; and present, Jackson, Miss. Marital status: Married-one son.

Office: Suite 1111-15, Deposit Guaranty Bank Building, Jackson, Miss.
Home: Box 188, Ackerman, Miss.

To be U.S. circuit judge for the fifth circuit.

Senator ERVIN. Governor, I have just been apprised of the fact that the Attorney General is here.

Attorney General KATZENBACH. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

Senator ERVIN. We will be glad to have you make any statements you might wish to make at this time.


Attorney General KATZENBACH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do have a brief statement which I would like to read if I may, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank the committee for this opportunity to testify in support of the nomination of James P. Coleman to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Because some question has arisen concerning the ability of the nominee to administer the law fairly and impartially in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, and because of my own strong feelings on civil rights, I thought it might be helpful to give the committee the reasons for my recommendation to the President that Mr. Coleman be appointed to this position.

In making recommendations for Federal judgeships, the Department does not, of course, inquire into the private views of nominees on particular laws or court decisions. While it is essential that judicial officers at all levels respect and obey the law and administer it fairly, such an approach to the duties of the bench should be assumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Most of those appointed to high office, whatever their private inclinations, will carry out their constitutional duty and their oath to follow the law as laid down by the Congress and as interpreted by the courts. Not all judges approve of all the laws they administer; yet they apply them just the same.

The past years have witnessed tremendous activity in the field of civil rights and a great deal of that activity has involved litigation in the Federal courts. This is true particularly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court hears many cases involving claims of racial discrimination and segregation-subjects in which personal feelings and background may easily be reflected.

For these reasons, and because of Mr. Coleman's political career in Mississippi and the statements and pronouncements he made n the course of that career, I thought it particularly important that the Department make a very careful and searching inquiry before recommending his name to the President. I am glad to share the general results of this investigation with this committee.

Mr. Coleman has made statements in defense of racial segregation. Of that there can be no doubt. Perhaps typical of his political statements is this excerpt from a speech made in 1957 in which he said:

We intend to stand up to it. We in Mississippi have made up our minds we are not running any more, from any place, from any thing. We, of course, want peace and quiet, but if the time ever comes that we realize that such is not the case, then we will take appropriate action and we have never said what that action will be. I have said many times before and I may again-any schoolchild in Mississippi will not live long enough to see integration take place in our State.

On another occasion, Governor Coleman stated that any Mississippi white public school or college forced to accept a Negro student would

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »