Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 33
INTERVIEWER:

GOING BACK TO THE CIRCUIT COURT LEVEL, WE HAVE READ SOMEWHERE I BELIEVE THAT YOU CONSIDERED ASKING THEM ALL, EVEN DID ASK THEM TO REGISTER JAMES MEREDITH RIGHT THERE IN COURT AND JUST GET IT OVER WITH, IS THAT TRUE?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

Yes, I think during the argument in the 5th Circuit, one of the things we did was to ask the court to register James Meredith right then and there. You know the situation was unprecedented. The Court of Appeals acted as a trial court in that situation, because they felt that the district judge in Jackson would not proceed promptly with the matter of finally getting James Meredith enrolled. So the court of appeals itself sat as a trial court in effect, and issued the orders. Now when the governor resisted, the Governor of Mississippi resisted, he was then cited by that court for contempt of its orders. And a trial was hold in that court of the governor and his resistance to the court's decision and he was found in contempt of the fifth circuit's order to admit James Meredith, he was given an opportunity of course as required by law to purge himself of contempt by admitting him and that of course is what ultimately happened. But I don't think there was ever a time in this country where a governor was held in contempt of a Sup- of a court of appeals decision and was actually tried in a court of appeals for that contempt.