Interview with Judge John Minor Wisdom
QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

IF WE LOOK AT THIS EARLY PERIOD OF CIVIL RIGHTS UP TO, UP THROUGH THE JAMES MEREDITH SITUATION OF 62. DO YOU THINK THERE WERE ANY TIMES WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERWENT DID TRAMPLE TOO FAR ON THE STATES AUTHORITY?

Judge John Minor Wisdom:

You… There are some who thought so, but they've expressed it very gently, for example I think Burke Marshall may have said even that, that the constitution may have been bruised slightly by overuse of the federal power. I have never thought that to be the case. Now, I may be doing an injustice to Burke Marshall, I just use him for an example, as an example. In case he said it, I think he may have said something like it. But I have never thought so and I think its very unfortunate that today there's a tendency to over value the part that the states play in this country. We, they seem to forget, all to, those persons who promote that idea and they're particularly prominent today. Those persons who promote that idea have forgotten that the reasons the article of confederation did not work was because we had a league of sovereign states. When we formed the union, we formed it to beget a national government. And what is important is a national government and the two states are subservient. Subservient may be an unfortunate term, to some persons, but I mean it in the sense that the nation is the prime concern of the constitution and that was the thought of Madison and of Hamilton. And much as we may value the liberties and rights that Jefferson espoused, we live in a Hamiltonian and Madisonian world. And I can see for the federal courts, as a national, as the guardians of nationally created, federally created, or nationally guaranteed or federally guaranteed rights and that's why I think the role of the federal courts was highly important particularly in this period that you have limited yourself to.