J. Waites Waring

J. Waites Waring

Julius Waites Waring (1880-1968) was a distinguished American lawyer and jurist who played an important role in the early legal battles of the American Civil Rights Movement. After divorcing his wife and remarrying the Northern socialite Elizabeth Waring (born Elizabeth Avery), Judge Waring quickly transitioned from a racial moderate to a proponent of radical change. [David Southern, "Beyond Jim Crow Liberalism: Judge Waring's Fight Against Segregation in South Carolina, 1942-52"Journal of Negro History 66:3 (Fall, 1981) 209-27 ] Speaking at a Harlem church, he proclaimed: "The cancer of segregation will never be cured by the sedative of gradualism." [Id.] He served as a Federal Judge assigned to the US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina from 1942-1952 and heard several pivotal civil rights cases.

In two such cases he ruled in favor of those who had challenged accepted practices that placed Blacks at a disadvantage to Whites involving wages and the right to vote. In one case involving an experienced Black school teacher, Septima Clark, he ruled that equal pay must be guaranteed for otherwise equally qualified school teachers, regardless of their race. In another case he ruled in favor of a highly decorated war veteran who had been denied the right to vote during the South Carolina Democratic Party primary election in 1948. Judge Waring's order from the bench in this case became famous for its tone. South Carolina was then a one party state. The general election simply ratified what had already been decided in the Democratic Party primary. The state's Democratic Party had been organized as a private club intentionally designed to exclude Black voters from participation. Black South Carolinians were allowed to register to vote, but were almost universally excluded from voting in the Democratic Party primaries. Finding for the plaintiff Herbert Fielding and his attorney Thurgood Marshall, Judge Waring ordered Democratic Party officials throughout SC to open their rolls "with all deliberate speed" to all qualified voters, without regard to their race.

In 1950 he was one of three judges to hear a school desegregation test case known as Briggs v. Elliott. Again Thurgood Marshall represented the plaintiffs against the Clarendon County, South Carolina, public schools which were described as separate but not at all equal. Though the plaintiffs lost the case before the three judge panel which voted 2-1 for the defendants, Waring's eloquent dissent formed the legal foundation for the United States Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Political, editorial and social leaders in South Carolina continued to criticize and shun Judge Waring and his wife to the point where he ultimately resigned from the bench and left Charleston all together in 1952 and moved to New York. He died in New York in 1968 and was buried in the Waring family plot at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

Additional reading

*cite book |title=Born to Rebel: An Autobiography |last=Mays |first=Benjamin Elijah |authorlink=Benjamin Elijah Mays |publisher=University of Georgia Press |location=Athens, GA |pages=380 |year=2003 |id=ISBN 0-8203252-3-6
*cite book |title=A Passion for Justice: J. Waites Waring and Civil Rights |last=Yarborough |first=Tinsley E. |authorlink=Tinsley E. Yarborough |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=New York |pages=282 |year=2001 |id=ISBN 0195147154
*cite book |title=With All Deliberate Speed: Segregation-Desegregation in Southern Schools |last=Shoemaker |first=Don |authorlink=Don Shoemaker |publisher=Harper and Brothers |location=New York |pages=206 |year=1957 |id=ALIBRIS: 9022539968 ISBN: unknown
*cite book |title=Simple Justice: The history of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's struggle for equality |last=Kluger |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Kluger |publisher=Random House |location=New York |pages=865 |year=1975 |id=ISBN 1-4000-3061-7


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