Washington Law Review


Tonight, I am shifting to a new perspective in time. I would ask you to think of us as standing at a midpoint, just about equally distant from the decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the beginning of a new century, some twenty-three years back and forward. I remember the day the Brown case was decided; I learned of it, on a May afternoon still fragrant, from a group of Columbia law students in the drugstore-luncheonette on the corner of 116th Street and Broadway in New York. If you remember that day, or some other day in that year, as freshly as I do-—as freshly as if it were yesterday—then you will, with me, perceive the twenty-three years left in this century as a pretty short time. To those of you who cannot remember the day or year of the Brown decision—those of you who are the best hope of that new century—I have to say, with a sadness softened by the knowledge that you will not quite believe me, that it will come sooner than you can now conceive possible. It is not too early to begin thinking about the role of the courts—and especially of the Supreme Court—in that century. For that role—and I speak here again chiefly to the young, or at least to the younger than I—will be determined in great part by the planning, the advocacy, the views of propriety and professional rightness, which you choose to espouse and put forward.

First Page