The Marble Palace Blog: How a 14-Year-Old Student Made Supreme Court History

A several months immediately after the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Brown v. Board of Instruction final decision in Could 1954, the justices set forth a lesser-known milestone inside of the courtroom building itself (also identified as the Marble Palace).

The milestone experienced to do with the court’s “pages,” young learners employed to support justices by retrieving textbooks, providing water and undertaking other chores in the course of oral arguments and similar responsibilities outside the courtroom. They had been reliable by the justices.

Immediately after a long time of all-white webpages, the court docket issued a press release in July 1954 stating that Charles Vernon Bush, a 14-year-previous D.C. Banneker Junior Substantial University student, would be the 1st African-American site at the higher court. In part simply because of the current Brown v. Board conclusion, the news created some headlines.

The New York Times, for case in point, wrote, “Oddly, this will be, in a way, the to start with implementation of the Court’s ruling that segregation is unconstitutional.” Bush was also the initial minority scholar to show up at the Capitol Website page School, which educated internet pages for the legislative department as properly as the Supreme Courtroom. Since the page school was regarded as aspect of the D.C. community school procedure, Bush was regarded as the university system’s very first minority university student.

In an posting in the Journal of Supreme Courtroom Heritage, court docket scholar Todd Peppers recounts the existence and importance of Charles Bush, and how then-Main Justice Earl Warren, fairly new to the work, insisted that a black university student be recruited as just one of the 4 webpages that yr. Neither Warren’s 1977 memoir nor Warren biographies look to mention his hard work to come across a black site.

Warren generally greeted the pages with a hearty “Good morning, boys” when he well prepared to take the bench. (The to start with feminine Supreme Courtroom website page was Deborah Gelin, who served from 1972 to 1975.)

In a 2007 job interview discovered by Peppers, Bush verified that Warren pushed to integrate the Supreme Courtroom webpages. “His intent was to reveal to the world that the Supreme Courtroom was without a doubt severe about the university integration decision,” Bush reported. “And that was significant to him for the reason that the implementation hearings had been occurring in the upcoming [court] session.”

Court personnel scrambled to obtain possible recruits. Marshal of the courtroom T. Perry Lippett suggested Bush. Peppers explained that “Charles was an exemplary scholar who regularly designed his junior superior faculty honor roll though juggling a host of extracurricular activities: captain of the discussion staff member of the varsity basketball group and the spelling workforce class treasurer actor and director of college performs receiver of awards in science competitions member of the National Honor Culture member of the university newspaper’s business staff members. And he had a excellent a few-year attendance report.”

Bush was welcomed amid most but not all courtroom staffers. Bush said, “The messengers and the janitorial employees had been tickled pink that I was there.” Another fellow webpage mentioned of Bush that, “While he was not usually handled well by many of us, he maintained the greater ground” and “earned the regard of all and designed numerous pals.”

Bush’s tenure as a webpage finished in 1957, and he went on to Howard University and Georgetown College, followed by a stint in the U.S. Air Drive and then positions in small business. He died in 2012.

A single good friend and colleague of Bush who is however alive is George Hutchinson, of counsel at the Finnegan law company in Washington. Hutchinson was a web site in 1938 and then turned an assistant to the marshal, wherever aspect of his work was seeking right after the webpages. Afterwards, Hutchinson grew to become the court’s final “court crier” who had the endeavor of gaveling the court to buy and shouting “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez.”

Now perfectly into his 90s, Hutchinson advised me this week that he remembered Charles Bush effectively. “I utilized to supervise him to some diploma,” Hutchinson said. “He handled persons well and was taken care of very well. He was pretty good. A great human being.” Hutchinson recalled that web pages ended up expected to don knickers when they had been at the courtroom. The difficulty was that the younger webpages grew rapidly, and they experienced to purchase new knickers each and every 12 months at their have price. “They had to pay back for their pants!” Hutchinson exclaimed.