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John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy to Representatives of the National Bar Association
August 31, 1960

As the guardian of our constitutional rights, the Federal judiciary must have at all levels the best possible judges. This means that appointments must be made on the basis of merit. But it also means that an active search must be made to find outstanding men and women of all races and backgrounds.

With more than 4,000 Negro lawyers in this country there are many outstanding Negroes from whom to choose future judges. President Truman led the way in appointing the first Negro lifetime Federal judge and the first Negro on the court of appeals. But the fact that only one other Negro has been appointed as a lifetime Federal judge and that no Negro has ever been appointed a Federal district judge shows how far we still have to go in making our judiciary representative of the best of all our people.

I assure you that in a new Democratic administration there will be far better representation, on the basis of merit, of persons of all our racial groups, including particularly those who in the past have been excluded on the basis of prejudice. For no American should be disqualified for any office because of his race, color, religion, or family origin. It is time for us to practice what our Constitution preaches. The Federal judiciary and the whole Federal service should be a model of Americanism, in which there are no traces of any form of arbitrary discrimination.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy to Representatives of the National Bar Association", August 31, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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