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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks at the Swearing In of Ramsey Clark as Attorney General.
Lyndon B. Johnson
105 - Remarks at the Swearing In of Ramsey Clark as Attorney General.
March 10, 1967
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1967: Book I
Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: Book I

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Mr. Clark and Mrs. Clark, Tom Clark, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice and distinguished Members of the Court, Members of the Cabinet, distinguished Members of the United States Senate, Members of the House of Representatives, ladies and gentlemen:

This is a very great pleasure for me to return to the Department of Justice today and one that I have looked forward to for some time now. This is a very unique experience for many of us--a very unusual one.

As we were walking in the building, the very important and able Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee--I know that all you Department heads know how important he is--observed that he believed that this was the first time in the history of the Republic when we had had father and son father a former Attorney General and a Supreme Court Justice and son an Attorney General--and he didn't want to get prophetic.

I said, "Yes, I guess that is true." I don't really understand how that came about, except perhaps we shouldn't forget what I was told when I was a young man growing up that "behind every good man there were usually two good women--a good mother and a good wife."

After all, we wouldn't have had a father who was a former Attorney General and a Supreme Court Justice and a son who is now an Attorney General--or shortly Will be and could be something else some time--except for the fact that one sweet little lady not only knew how to marry a man who could be an Attorney General and a Supreme Court Justice, but she at least knew how to raise an Attorney General.

It was about 26 years ago when I heard a great President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, assert the four freedoms:

--Freedom of speech.

--Freedom of worship.

--Freedom from want, and

--Freedom from fear.

Today as we meet here--as then when he made that statement--we are all working and fighting to assure those freedoms throughout the globe.

The distinguished Chief Justice has just returned from a historic trip where he has made his contribution to that in Latin America.

But, if we are to do that successfully, we must assure these freedoms here at home first.

Our rights to free speech and our rights to free worship are a very important part of our guarantees under our Constitution. But freedom from want and freedom from fear are still yet to be fully achieved.

We have declared--and I think we are making great progress toward winning--a war on poverty. More than 6 million people have been lifted from the poverty levels in the last 3 years.

Thankfully, not every American knows poverty. But every American does know fear. Very few thrive on it. Some do.

Fear haunts, though, too many American communities in this land. It assails us all, no matter where we live, no matter how little we own. We fear for our person, we fear for our property, and we fear for our privacy.

America cannot tolerate enduringly this climate of fear. Our streets, our parks, our businesses, and our homes ought to be, should be, and must be made safe. We should be able to greet a stranger as a friend, not as a threat.

Fear should force no man from his home, or from his neighborhood that he has chosen for his home, or he would like to have as his home.

America can win this war against crime and the fear that crime inspires--if America is determined to win that war. And it can win it while respecting the rights of its citizens.

I predict, under the leadership of some of the great men whom I see in this room today, that we will win that war.

Tragically, some Americans fear not only the criminals who break the law, but also the men who seek to enforce it. The right of every American to be free from unlawful searches and forced self-incrimination must be upheld.

The right of privacy--the right Justice Brandeis called the most valued by civilized men--must be inviolate in this country.

Every man should know that his conversations, his correspondence, and his personal life are private. I have urged Congress--except when the Nation's security is at stake-to take action to that end.

Innocent citizens must know that their rights will be violated neither by those who break the law--nor by those who seek to uphold it.

I have sought, and I think I have found, a man who, as our Attorney General, will be our commander, our leader, and our general in this war on two fronts against fear.

Our American system charges him with a most difficult and very delicate responsibility. The Supreme Court of our land has described his role in the following words:

"He is, in a peculiar and very definite sense, the servant of the law--the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor--indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one."

Sixty-four men have held this great office since the founding of this Republic. Rarely, if ever, has one been better qualified, by background, character, training, and temperament, than the man who will be the sixty-fifth Attorney General.

I remember him when he was serving his apprenticeship in the Department as a boy in knee pants. His father was soliciting suggestions on morale and how to improve the efficiency of the Department to bring all of the different bureaus up to the high standards of efficiency to which Mr. Hoover had brought the FBI.

Even then, Ramsey made his contribution. When they opened the box and looked at the suggestions, one of them was a rather unusual suggestion. I don't know that it irritated the Attorney General. I just think that he wanted to consult further with the person making the suggestion.

He called Mr. Hoover and he said, "I want to know who made this suggestion that the Attorney General quit wearing these bright bow ties." The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, "Do I have to reveal his name and invade his privacy?" The Attorney General said that he would be pleased if he did. And he said, very reluctantly, "It was your son"--the future Attorney General--"Ramsey."

So, today, Ramsey becomes the lawyer for all Americans; he becomes the Nation's advocate at the bar of justice. His professional qualifications are all a matter of record.

I gave them to the press over at the White House the other day. I have listed them from time to time and after 5 months I finally got them all there on one mimeographed sheet.

He adds to all of those qualifications listed very superb qualities of mind and character.

Secure in his knowledge of the law, gifted with a quick mind and a keen conscience, I believe that he is above all else a humble, deeply, quietly, courageous man with the strength and depth of his convictions and the moral strength not only of genuine humility, but the strength and courage to carry those convictions out.

So, in our quest in this Nation--in our quest and our search for justice for every citizen, Ramsey Clark is the man whom America looks to.

Along with the other members of the Cabinet, the employees of this Department, we welcome him to the Cabinet of the President of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice. In his opening words he referred to incoming Attorney General and Mrs. Ramsey Clark, Associate Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, who administered the oath of office to his son, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Speaker of the House of Representatives John W. McCormack, and Chief Justice Earl Warren. During his remarks he referred to Representative George H. Mahon of Texas, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Louis D. Brandeis, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States 1916-1939, and J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks at the Swearing In of Ramsey Clark as Attorney General.," March 10, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=28123.
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