The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Press Release of Senator John F. Kennedy on the National Bar Association, Washington, DC
August 31, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy told a group of Negro lawyers representing the National Bar Association today that-

in a new Democratic administration there will be far better representation, on the basis of merit, of persons of all racial groups-
in the Federal judiciary.

The lawyer's group included Elmer C. Jackson, of Kansas City, president of the National Bar Association; Edward B. Toles, of Chicago chairman of the Judiciary Committee; William S. Thompson, of Washington, D.C., executive board member; Theodore W. Coggs, of Milwaukee, second vice president; Leroy G. Charles, of Chicago, regional director; Roy C. Garvin, of Washington, D.C., and Mrs. Rosa Charles, of Chicago, president of the women's auxiliary of the National Bar Association.

Senator Kennedy told the group:

With more than 4,000 lawyers in this country there are many outstanding Negroes from whom to choose future judges.
The full text of the Senator's remarks follows:
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 been appointed a district judge show 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 an 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 Federal service should be a model of Americanism, in which there are no traces of any form of arbitrary discrimination.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Press Release of Senator John F. Kennedy on the National Bar Association, Washington, DC", August 31, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74306.
 
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