Resolution by the SC General Assembly to remove Judge J. Waties Waring from the state, February 1950

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Julius Waties Waring, an eighth generation Charlestonian, had ties to the city’s most elite social circles and the state’s politicians, as well as a prestigious address south of Broad Street. After finishing second in his class from the College of Charleston he pursued a career in law through an apprenticeship with a family friend. Garnering many years of experience as an assistant US attorney, and in private practice, Waring was appointed to the position of US District Judge for the Eastern District of South Carolina in 1942. During this appointment Waring issued many controversial decisions and opinions, and left an indelible mark on the legal history of the civil rights movement.

In 1947 the NAACP filed suit against the Richland County Democratic executive committee on behalf of a black plaintiff who was denied the right to vote in the 1946 Democratic primary. Since 1900, every Governor, member of the General Assembly, and United States Representative and Senator elected in the State of South Carolina had been a nominee of the Democratic Party. Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that excluding black voters from the primary virtually excluded them from the voting process in that state. Attorneys for the defendants maintained that the Democratic primary was conducted by a private organization, and thus was exempt from constitutional requirements of the law. The case came to trial before Waring, who found in favor of the plaintiff, dismissing the notion that the Democratic party should be treated as a private club, “…as private clubs and business organizations do not vote and elect a President of the United States,” or the members of the national congress, “…and under the law of our land, all citizens are entitled to a voice in such elections.”

Following this ruling the state adopted a required oath that all voters must swear to uphold before they were allowed to vote in the primary. A voter was sworn to support the principles of the Democratic Party, including “the social, religious, and education separation of races.” Further legal action resulted in Waring issuing warnings of imprisonment to those who prevented blacks from voting, and eliminated all voters’ oaths except those that established residence, voting history, and pledges of support to the nominees of the primary.

Perhaps Waring’s most famous legal opinion was a dissent issued in the case of Briggs v. Elliott. Filed on December 22, 1950 by NAACP lawyers on behalf of the parents of black students, Briggs indicted School District 22 with upholding unequal conditions in the black and white schools of Clarendon County, South Carolina. While white students were transported by bus, black students had to walk up to nine miles to reach their schools, since no buses were provided. Conditions inside of black schools lacked indoor plumbing, running water, and were typically heated only by wooden stoves. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that separate and segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Waring, along with Judges Parker and Timmerman, was appointed to the three-judge panel set to hear the case. The plaintiffs lost their case by a 2 to 1 vote, but Waring’s scathing dissent became well publicized. The judge deemed segregation to be “an evil that must be eradicated” and proclaimed, “Segregation is per se inequality.” On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the original court’s decision in Briggs. That same day Waring announced his retirement.

Although Briggs ultimately found new life as one of the five cases combined to form the landmark case of Brown v. Board (1954), in which the Supreme Court finally deemed that “separate were inherently unequal,” Julius Waties Waring had to enjoy the victory from a distance; his new home was in New York City. The judge and his wife moved from Charleston in the months following his retirement, seeking refuge from the closed minds and burning crosses of South Carolina.

The contemptuous relationship between Julius Waties Waring and the state of South Carolina is best expressed in the document above, a joint resolution issued by the General Assembly in 1950. Even before Briggs, Waring’s various decisions in race-related court cases and outspoken distaste for segregation in the South made him seriously unpopular in the State, and especially in his native city. On February 14, 1950 this resolution was put before the state House of Representatives as a means of removing Waring and his “socialite wife” from South Carolina by means of two one-way plane tickets.

Citation:

“A Joint Resolution.” 14 February 1950. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.
Indicator 3-5.6 Summarize the key events and effects of the civil rights movement in South Carolina, including the desegregation of schools (Briggs v. Elliott) and other public facilities and the acceptance of African Americans’ right to vote.
Standard 5-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, and political events that influenced the United States during the Cold War era.
Indicator 5-5.3 Explain the advancement of the civil rights movement in the United States, including key events and people: desegregation of the armed forces, Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X.
Standard 8-7: The student will demonstrate an understanding of South Carolina’s economic revitalization during World War II and the latter twentieth century.
Indicator 8-7.4 Explain the factors that influenced the economic opportunities of African American South Carolinians during the latter twentieth century, including racial discrimination, the Briggs v. Elliott case, the integration of public facilities and the civil rights movement, agricultural decline, and statewide educational improvement. (H, P, E) Standard USHC-9: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, and political events that impacted the United States during the Cold War era.
Indicator USHC-9.5: Explain the movements for racial and gender equity and civil liberties, including their initial strategies, landmark court cases and legislation, the roles of key civil rights advocates, and the influence of the civil rights movement on other groups seeking ethnic and gender equity.

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