SC judge who wrote separate not equal honored

US Attorney Gen. Eric Holder speaking about Judge Waring (Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV/AP) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Charleston to help dedicate astatue of the first federal judge to write an opinion challenging separate butequal decades after the policy was declared the law by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ceremony was heldFriday outside the courthouse where native Charlestonian Judge Waties Waringheard cases.

Applause and a statue now memorialize a man, once denigratedin his own city.

"Judge Waring became a pariah in his native city andstate. A cross was burned in his yard, rocks were thrown though hiswindows," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said.

U.S. District Judge Waties Waring served during a time whenseparate but equal was the law of the land.

In1947, Waring made the decision for Elmore v. Rice, requiring the DemocraticParty to allow black voter participation. Waring wrote that it was "timefor South Carolina to rejoin the Union" and "to adopt the Americanway of conducting elections."

Waring's opinions in civil rights cases involving equal pay forblack teachers, allowing blacks to vote in the state Democratic primary andschool desegregation made him an outcast in his native Charleston during thedays of segregation.

According to a release from event organizers, a cross was burnedin Waring's yard, rocks were thrown through his windows, and he receivedconstant threats.

But in 1951, he wrote a dissenting opinion that would makehistory. He was the first judge to say "separate but equal" wasinherently unequal.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he even talked withPresident Obama about Friday's dedication.

"We were both talking about how difficult did that haveto be. Then to hear what happened to the judge. To get run out of town fordoing something that was morally right," Holder said.

Holder and an array of other leaders spoke at Friday's dedication.They talked about the man who preceded the Supreme Court with a landmarkdecision.

But national recognition did not make him a local hero.Experts said he went in to exile. Local civic leaders raised money to giveWaring the respect they thought he deserved.

"Today we bring Judge Waties Waring from the dim anddusty archives of history and place him in the pantheon of heroes here in thisbeautiful public space in the city of his birth and service," Mayor JoeRiley said.

"Those 10 years were the most historical 10 years inthe history of this country," Rep. James Clyburn said.

Once threatened for speaking out, but lauded today formaking history.{}

After retirement Waring moved away from South Carolina tofinish his life in New York City.

Alsoattending the ceremony were William Traxler, the chief judge of the 4th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal andformer governor and U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings.

The statue is paid for by contributions from legal and civicorganizations across the state. It will stand in the Charleston FederalCourthouse Garden at the intersection of Meeting and Broad streets.