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The Federal Paper Chase: Judges' Papers in the Manuscript Division

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

The United Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia, hears cases on appeal from nine different United States District Courts located in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies. The papers from the Manuscript Division of judges who presided over cases while serving on the 4th circuit are provided below.

Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. Papers

Appointed to the United States Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit in 1957, Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. sat on the court for over 30 years. Though perhaps most famous for his failed Supreme Court nomination in 1969, Haynsworth went on to build a notable reputation among fellow legal professionals including Supreme Court justices based on “a solid record of moderation,” notes legal scholar Bruce H. Kalk. In his autobiography, The Court Years: 1939-1975, even liberal Justice William O. Douglas conceded that Haynsworth “would have been a good judge on our Court. I think Hugo Black felt the same way.” In 1983, the United States Congress named a federal building in Greenville, South Carolina in his honor - possibly a conciliatory gesture designed to assuage, according to some observers, the partisan attack he endured at the Senate confirmation hearings fourteen years earlier.1

The Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. Papers do not document his failed 1969 Supreme Court bid, researchers will want to contact Furman University near Greenville, South Carolina, for that material. However, they do cover much of his long career on the Fourth Circuit with the bulk of the collection focusing on the years from 1957 to 1989. The collection consists of correspondence, memoranda, opinions, orders, writs, petitions, notes, background information, news clippings, and printed matter.

Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. The Kilgore-Lewis House, a historic house in Greenville, South Carolina. May 11, 2017. Carol M. Highsmith Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Legal issues in the collection, found primarily in Haynsworth’s case files, focus on civil rights, constitutional law, labor relations, anti-trust law, maritime law, government regulation, and prisoner rights. Arguably one of the most important and salient issues during his tenure on the Court related to the desegregation of schools in the various states under the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Initially, Haynsworth’s moderate to conservative rulings on desegregation particularly in the light of Brown v. Board II, “slowed [the] trajectory for the massive change then taking place in the South,” writes Kalk. However, Haynsworth's initial stance on this issue seemed to evolve over time. For example, legal historian, John P. MacKenzie, appealed for a more nuanced understanding of the judge arguing in a 1989 New York Times editorial that the judge had been unfairly "twinned" with fellow failed Nixon appointee G. Harrold Carswell. In contrast, Haynsworth proved far more qualified and more devoted to his profession and the law than Carswell. To some extent, civil rights groups agreed portraying Haynsworth "not as a racist but as overly tolerant of Virginia's massive resistance to school desegregation and slow to recognize the legal rights of [African Americans]." Perhaps the efforts of civil rights activists influenced Haynsworth's rulings. Over the course of ensuing years his opinions in several cases advocated for integration such as his support for the desegregation of metropolitan Richmond’s public schools in the early 1970s.2

It should be noted that from 1961 to 1967 Haynsworth’s case files are rather sparse consisting almost exclusively of only printed opinions. With this exception noted, case files consist largely of correspondence and memoranda between lawyers and judges, opinions, orders, writes, petition, notes, background information, and printed matter.

A respected jurist, Haynsworth corresponded with numerous significant legal and political figures such as William J. Brennan, Warren E. Burger, Tom C. Clark, John Paul Frank, Ernest F. Hollings, Edward Moore Kennedy, J. Woodrow Lewis, Daniel John Meador, Arthur R. Miller, Richard M. Nixon, Lewis F. Powell Jr., Strom Thurmond, and Charles Allen Wright. Additionally, a portion of the collection consists of files relating to public officials and judges, such as Sam J. Ervin Jr., and Simon Ernest Sobeloff, some of which contain correspondence and other materials. His files on Charles Allen Wright, a well-regarded constitutional scholar, are notably robust.

For researchers interested in true crime, Haynsworth, as part of a three-judge panel and a participant in an en banc panel request, decided appeals of convicted murderer Jeffrey R. MacDonald. MacDonald was convicted of a triple murder of his family. The case garnered national attention due to the bestselling book Fatal Vision written by Joe McGinniss and a 1984 mini-series based on McGinniss’ work. MacDonald had hired McGinnis prior to the start of his trial to prove his innocence. McGinnis, however, became convinced of MacDonald’s guilt and wrote the book from that perspective. The collection contains two cases relating to MacDonald, 79-5253 United States v. MacDonald, five folders, and 85-6208, United States v. MacDonald, three folders.

Also of note: In the office file subseries, scholars focusing on judicial conduct will discover several folders on that issue as well as a report written by Haynsworth, entitled "United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit," which provides a detailed description of the inner workings of the court.

  1. Bruce H. Kalk, "'The Making of Mr. Justice Haynsworth?': The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Judge Clement F. Haynsworth Jr.," The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 117 No.1 (January 2016): 4-29; William O. Douglas, The Court Years, 1939-1975: The Autobiography of William O. Douglas (New York: Random House, 1980), 255. Back to text
  2. Bruce H. Kalk, "'The Making of Mr. Justice Haynsworth?'; John P. MacKenzie, "The Editorial Notebook; A Judge for Life," New York Times, December 5, 1989. Back to text

The following collection title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. A link to the collection finding aid is included when available.

Simon Ernest Sobeloff Papers

Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore, often called the Baltimore Conservatory, which opened in 1888 in Baltimore, Maryland's Druid Hill Park. October 30, 2018. Carol M. Highsmith Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On March 25, 1933, the Baltimore branch of the American Jewish Congress under the leadership of its president, the United States Attorney for Maryland Simon Sobeloff, called a meeting “to protest against the mistreatment of Jews in Germany.” Held at one of the city’s most established synagogues, Chizuk Amuno, the conference drew 59 Jewish organizations from around the city.3

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in late-19th century East Baltimore, Sobeloff later attended Baltimore City College and earned his law degree from the University of Maryland in 1915. By 1933, Sobeloff had risen to President of the Baltimore Branch of the American Jewish Congress. The bulletin published by the Baltimore branch of the American Jewish Congress reached 6,500 readers, gentile and Jewish alike, Sobeloff asserted. “We have been and are using every means in our power to awaken our community, non-Jewish as well as Jewish, to an understanding of our problem and an earnest interest in dealing with it,” he wrote to one of the organization’s most recognizable leaders, Rabbi Stephen Wise, in November 1933.4

The papers of Simon Ernest Sobeloff document his career as a judge and chief judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, encompassing West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina respectively, as well as his brief term as Solicitor General (1953-1955) in the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, but also his work for the city of Baltimore and its notable Jewish community.

As a federal judge and solicitor general, Sobeloff shaped national, Maryland, and upper Southern desegregation policies which are represented in his correspondence and case files relating to his judicial service. Correspondence, memoranda, and case and subject files provide a window into Judge Sobeloff's jurisprudence and its impact nationally, regionally, and locally.

Though the collection does not comprehensively document Sobeloff’s three years as Solicitor General under the Eisenhower administration, the Solicitor General series does include cases regarding the segregation of public schools, the actions of the Subversive Activities Control Board, and the federal preemption of state sedition laws among others. Of note, following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, Sobeloff was tasked with presenting before the Supreme Court how the decision would be implemented. President Eisenhower took great interest in the reargument and met with Sobeloff to review the prepared brief. A copy of the brief with the president’s notations is in the papers along with other materials related to desegregation.

Due to his length of tenure and status as chief judge on the Fourth Circuit, the Simon Ernest Sobeloff Papers provide a window into the activities and procedures undertaken by and the cases that became before the court over a nearly two decade period. Desegregation serves as a major issue in the United States Court of Appeals series, but numerous others appear as well. Case files include correspondence among judges, intra-court memoranda, bench memoranda, notes, draft opinions, and other related material produced and collected by Sobeloff. Records of judicial conferences are also available to researchers in this series, which document the topics and issues of interests at the annual meetings of judges of the Fourth Circuit. The Judicial Conference files consist of correspondence, notes, and working drafts for various advisory committees upon which Sobeloff served.

As demonstrated, though the bulk of the collection concerns his service on the Fourth Circuit Court, the collection does include significant portions documenting Sobeloff's work for the city of Baltimore as its city solicitor along with his speech writing for and correspondence with Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor, Theodore McKeldin. In addition, Sobleoff served on several state government committees and commissions such as the Commission on Administration Organization on the State of Maryland and the Governor's Committee on Unemployment, Insurance, and Relief among others, thereby shaping Maryland policies. Researchers interested in this aspect of his career should consult the following series: Speeches and Writings File, the Subject File, and Miscellany. The first consists of speeches, writings, correspondence, notes, and rough drafts on subjects such as criminal insanity, courts and the press, civil liberties, freedom and security, immigration laws and the criminal code. The second details Sobeloff’s activities for the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, Maryland Commission on Administrative Organization of the State, and the Baltimore Urban League as well as for the city’s Jewish community as director of the Association of Jewish Charities, director of the Jewish Education Alliance, and as an officer in the American Jewish Congress among others. The third, Miscellany, includes his work for the Baltimore Employment Stabilization Commission and Sobeloff’s appointment as United States attorney for the district of Maryland.

Lanny Miyamoto, photographer. Historic American Buildings Survey EXTERIOR VIEW ... Lloyd Street Synagogue, Lloyd & Watson Streets, Baltimore, Baltimore (Independent City), MD. 1958. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Finally, as a nationally recognized figure and a leading member of Baltimore's historic Jewish community, Sobeloff's papers provide insight into the cultural history of Jewish America and its particular influence in the Mid-Atlantic region. As already noted, Sobeloff served as director of the Association of Jewish Charities, director of the Jewish Educational Alliance, and as an officer in the American Jewish Congress. Locally he served on the Baltimore Board of Jewish Education and the Baltimore Jewish Council. Numerous other Jewish organizations corresponded with Sobeloff such as B'nai B'rith, providing further material in regard to organizational histories. In addition to the Subject File series, the 2019 Addition includes a great deal of material on these topics also. Additionally, correspondence with family members, notably his brother Isidore Sobeloff, who also worked for and closely with numerous Jewish organizations, offers further insight into the Jewish community. Researchers interested in this aspect of the collection can read further about Sobeloff's role in Jewish Baltimore here. The bulk of the addition consists of correspondence, both personal and professional. Correspondence and memoranda from these organizations provides further context to the culture history aspects of the collection.

  1. Ryan Reft, "Simon Sobeloff and Jewish Baltimore," In Custodia Legis Blog, September 12, 2019. Back to text
  2. Ibid. Back to text

The following collection title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. A link to the collection finding aid is included when available.