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Tue, 07.27.1880

Julius W. Waring, Judge born

Julius Waring

*Julius Waring was born on this date in 1880.  He was a white-American lawyer and judge who played an important role in the early legal battles of the American Civil Rights Movement.   

Julius Waties Waring was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Edward Perry Waring and Anna Thomasine Waties. He graduated second in class with an Atrium Baccalaureus degree from the College of Charleston in 1900.  Waring read law in 1901 and passed the South Carolina bar exam in 1902.  He married his first wife, Annie Gammel, in 1913. Their only daughter was Anne Waring Warren, who died without children. The couple moved into a house at 61 Meeting St. in 1915.  He was in the private practice of law in Charleston from 1902 to 1942 and an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of South Carolina from 1914 to 1921.  

He served as the city attorney for Charleston from 1933 to 1942 under Mayor Burnet R. Maybank.  In 1938, he served as the campaign manager for Democratic Senator Ellison D. "Cotton Ed" Smith. Waring also founded a law firm with D. A. Brockington.  Waring was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina vacated by Judge Francis Kerschner Myers.  He was confirmed and received his commission on January 23, 1942.  Waring had support from the white establishment of Charleston.  His 1945 divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, followed almost immediately by his marriage to Elizabeth Hoffman, a twice-divorced northern matron, enraged his family and former friends.  He later attributed his growing “passion for justice” to his new wife’s liberalizing influence and the increased awareness of southern racism he acquired on the federal bench. 

In 1946, Chief of Police Linwood Shull of Batesburg, South Carolina, and several other officers beat Isaac Woodard, a black man, on his way home after serving over three years in the army, including repeatedly striking him in the eyes and blinding him. After it became clear that the state authorities of South Carolina would take no action against Shull, President Harry S. Truman himself initiated a case, brought to the federal level because the beating had occurred at a bus stop on federal property and that at the time of the assault, Woodard was in uniform.  

Waring presided over the case, but by all accounts, the trial was a travesty. The local United States Attorney charged with handling the case failed to interview anyone except the bus driver, a decision that Waring believed was a gross dereliction of duty. The behavior of the defense was no better. The defense attorney at one point told the jury that "if you rule against Shull, then let this South Carolina secede again," and he later shouted racial epithets at Woodard. The jury found Shull not guilty on all charges.  Waring would later write of his disgust of how the case was handled, commenting, "I was shocked by the hypocrisy of my submitting that disgraceful case..." 

In several other cases, he ruled in favor of those who had challenged the racist practices of the time. In Duvall v. School Board, he ruled that equal pay must be guaranteed for otherwise equally qualified schoolteachers, regardless of their race. That ruling was made from the bench, so there is no written opinion. However, Waring referred to his earlier decision when he decided on a related case in 1947, Thompson v. Gibbes.  In his 1946 ruling, he held that "a black resident of South Carolina was entitled to the same opportunity and facilities afforded to white residents for obtaining a legal education by and in the state" and gave the state of South Carolina three options: that the University of South Carolina admits the plaintiff John H. Wrighten, that the state opens a black law school or that the white law school at USC be closed.

His ruling was not novel but merely followed the United States Supreme Court's 1938 decision in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada. Rather than integrate the University of South Carolina or close it down, the South Carolina General Assembly] authorized the establishment of a law school at South Carolina State, South Carolina State University School of Law.  Waring opened the all-white Democratic Primary in South Carolina with his rulings in Elmore v. Rice and Brown v. Baskin.   

In 1951 Waring was one of three judges to hear a school desegregation test case, Briggs v. Elliott. Thurgood Marshall represented the plaintiffs against the Clarendon County, South Carolina public schools, described as separate but unequal. Though the plaintiffs lost the case before the three-judge panel, which voted 2-1 for the defendants, Waring's eloquent dissent and his phrase, "Segregation is per se inequality," formed the legal foundation for the United States Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.  

He served as Chief Judge from 1948 to 1952.   Speaking at a Harlem church, he proclaimed: "The cancer of segregation will never be cured by the sedative of gradualism."  Political, editorial, and social leaders in South Carolina criticized and shunned Judge Waring and his wife to the point where, in 1952, he assumed senior status, left Charleston altogether, and moved to New York City.  As Chief Judge, Waring ended segregated seating in the courtroom and chose a Black bailiff, John Fleming, who became known as "John the Bailiff."  He assumed senior status on February 15, 1952.  He was reassigned by operation of law to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina on October 7, 1965, under 79 Stat. 951.  His service was terminated on January 11, 1968, due to his death in New York City.  He was buried in the Waring family plot at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.  

In October 2015, the Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston has renamed the J. Waties Waring Judicial Center.  Rich Fulcher portrayed him in a second-season episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History.  

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