Interview with Judge Charles Clark
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

I KNOW BUT IS A LITTLE HARD FOR PEOPLE… IT WAS NOT DISMISSED OUT OF HAND AS TOTALLY UH PHONEY, IT WAS A REAL CASE. AND I WONDER IF YOU COULD TELL US ABOUT THAT, AGAIN THAT THROUGHOUT IT MISSISSIPPI, IT SHOULD NOT BE ASSUMED THAT MISSISSIPPI WAS JUST MAKING UP A CASE TO KEEP HIM OUT. THE LAW, THE LEGAL PROCESS…

Judge Charles Clark:

Alright. Now, let me begin this answer with emphasizing to you uh, what I conceive to be, still today outside of the Meredith case to be, the process of litigation in a court. And this is, a charge is made and the person against whom the charge is made chooses to either agree to that charge or to contest the charge. Then it's a question of proof. Meredith asserted the policy, the board denied the policy and we went to trial on that plus other reasons. Because when the, when the claim was made and denied that the policy had been applied there then occurred to the court the question well, if not a policy, why the denial. And the registrar of the University went through a number of reasons why he had chosen to deny admission to James Meredith. In, in looking back at the history of this case as it's recorded in the opinions of the, both the district court and the court of appeals, there were several grounds. Only one of those grounds was ever characterized by the court, by the court of appeals as frivolous, as having no real basic merit to it. The others were discussed in detail by the court and though the district court accepted, the appeals court rejected. The one ground that the appellate court characterized as frivolous is particularly, is of particular concern to me as I look back at it. It involved Meredith's registration to vote in Hines County, Mississippi. The district judge looked at a deposition of some testimony given by Meredith and his conclusion was that Meredith maintained stoutly that he was a resident of Attala County, which was his home. He was not a resident of Hines County and the district judge made the finding after reading the questions and answers that Meredith had falsely stated to the registrar here in Hines Country that he was entitled to vote here because he was a resident of Hines County. When the court of appeals looked at that same argument, the court of appeals said that when games Meredith answered a question, did you know your answer was false? With the answer, yes, sir, he was merely being polite. I, I find in retrospect that uh, I still don't consider that to be a frivolous argument.