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John Minor Wisdom

Born: 17-May-1905
Birthplace: New Orleans, LA
Died: 15-May-1999
Location of death: New Orleans, LA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, LA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Judge
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1957-77

Military service: US Army (1942-46, Lt. Col.)

Appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the 5th Circuit as a reward for helping to carry Louisiana, John Minor Wisdom's rulings made him one of the key behind-the-scenes figures in the Civil Rights Era. He was one of "The Four" -- the others being John R. Brown, Richard T. Rives, and Elbert Parr Tuttle -- judges admired (and hated) for working to eliminate Jim Crow from the South. Meredith v. Fair, in 1962, forced James Meredith to be admitted the University of Mississippi. Riots ensued. Another landmark case, United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education (certiorari denied, 1967), forced desegregation to proceed "lock, stock, and barrel" -- becoming one of the linchpins of affirmative action. In response to these and other rulings, he faced death threats, the poisoning of his dogs, and other harassments. In 1994, the building in which the 5th Circuit meets, was renamed in his honor.

Father: Mortimer Norton Wisdom
Mother: Adelaide Labatt
Wife: Bonnie Stewart Mathews (m. 24-Oct-1931, two daughters, one son)

    High School: Isidore Newman School, New Orleans, LA
    University: AB, Washington and Lee University (1925)
    Law School: LLB, Tulane Law School (1925-29)
    Professor: Adjunct, Tulane Law School (1938-57)

    US Appeals Court Judge, 5th Circuit (1957-77)
    Commission on Anti-Discrimination in Government Contracts (1954-57)
    Wisdom, Stone, Pigman, and Benjamin Partner
    Republican National Committee
    Legion of Merit
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 1993


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