Interview with Herbert Brownell, Jr.
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

AND THIS OF COURSE BRINGS US TO INTERPOSITION, WHICH WAS THE OTHER SIDE. UM COULD YOU TELL ME WHAT THE LEGAL OPINION AT JUSTICE WAS OF THIS THEORY OF INTERPOSITION?

Herbert Brownell, Jr.:

The opinion of the justice department from the beginning was that segregation in the public schools was unconstitutional. That, uh, because it was unconstitutional, uh, it uh, it was the role of the federal government to enforce desegregation and that uh, the position taken by most of the political leaders in the south, the fact that uh, they could interpose themselves uh, between the public and the federal government was not valid. No more valid than it was at the time of the Civil War and that uh, under the constitution the president has to enforce the constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which is legally as simple as that, and when there was direct defiance, uh, of the federal role as there was in Little Rock by Governor Faubus and, uh, his people there it became incumbent on the

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

SOUND ROLL 1141, CAMERA ROLL 175, THIRTY FEET REMAINING.

Herbert Brownell, Jr.:

After President Eisenhower met with Governor Faubus at Newport Rhode Island, Governor Faubus went back and decided still to resist Letting the black children into the public high school there. President Eisenhower then called me from Newport and said he was, had decided in view of Governor Faubus' position that the federal government must intervene, and uh, that he was coming back to Washington. He came back to Washington, and I had a meeting uh, with him at the White, just the two of us, to discuss how to implement his decisions that the federal government uh should intervene. And uh, it was decided at that time that the appropriate unit uh, enforcement unit would be the 1Olst uh, airborne division, which he knew, which he had desegregated while he was commander in chief of the United States uh, Armed Forces and which could be moved quickly into the uh, immediate area outside of uh, Little Rock, and with enough force to prevent casualties.