Sunday, October 18, 2009

His surname is "Justice." I like that.

William Wayne Justice, a federal district judge who ruled on ground-breaking class-action suits that compelled Texas to integrate schools, reform prisons, educate illegal immigrants and revamp many other policies, died Tuesday in Austin. He was 89. [...]

In a 1998 column in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Molly Ivins made what she called the “painfully obvious point” that Judge Justice had lived up to his name, saying he “brought the United States Constitution to Texas.”

The same year, Lino Graglia, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News, “He has wreaked more havoc and misery and injury to the people of Texas than any man in the last 25 years.”

If Judge Justice seemed high-handed, it was partly because he believed that the founding fathers had wanted judges to seize and command the higher ground. Perhaps not surprising, people reacted with hate mail, death threats, ostracism and bumper stickers demanding his impeachment.

“The plain fact of the matter is that the majority is sometimes wrong,” Judge Justice declared in an interview with The New York Times in 1982.

Frank R. Kemerer, who wrote “William Wayne Justice: A Judicial Biography” (1991), said in an interview on Wednesday, “He had a transcendent value, which was to advance human dignity and provide a measure of basic fairness.”

Grits for Breakfast remembers William Wayne Justice.

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