Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Willard H. Pedrick, October 22, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Working with Vinson

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Pedrick, according to your article that you wrote about your years with, uh, Chief Justice Vinson...

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick reflects upon his time spent working as a legal clerk under Vinson in the United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia Circuit). Pedrick also considers both his working relationship and personal relationship with Vinson at this time.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Assistance; Background; Centre College; Centre College School of Law; Competent; Congress; Considerations; Customs; Fred M. Vinson; Habits; Iowa; Issues; Job interviews; Judges; Kentucky politics; Legal clerks; Memorandum; Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Political system; Reunion; Rough drafts; U.S. Courts of Appeals; Washington (D.C.); Wiley Rutledge; Work hours; Workload

Subjects: Dean; Decision making; Mail; People; Responsibility; Work

00:11:35 - Vinson's judicial philosophy

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Partial Transcript: I want to go back for a minute to, uh, uh his philosophy of, uh, law and the court...

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick articulates Vinson's judicial philosophy, which was at times influenced by the external political climate (for instance, during Franklin D. Roosevelt's years as president).

Keywords: Branches of government; Concerns; Congress; Constituents; Court packing; Experiences; Finances; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Fred M. Vinson; Government; Judges; Law practice; Objective; Opinion writing; Pragmatists; Responsive; Solutions; Status; Supreme Court; The New Deal; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Change; Communication; Conservative; Dynamics; Legal opinions; Legislation; Philosophy; Public law; Students

00:18:30 - Vinson and Duncan Lawrence Groner

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned in your article that Vinson seemed especially close to, to, uh, Chief Justice Groner.

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick talks of the dynamics between Vinson and Chief Justice Duncan Lawrence Groner when they were both judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. Pedrick also discusses the relationship between Vinson and the other judges on the court in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Keywords: Academic; Agreeable; Ambitious; Chief Justice; Cornell University; Duncan Lawrence Groner; Fred M. Vinson; Henry White Edgerton; Justin Miller; Law professors; U.S. Courts of Appeals; Washington (D.C.); Wiley Rutledge

Subjects: Friendship; Judges; Justices; Republicans

00:20:57 - Vinson's interesting cases / Vinson's personal side

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Partial Transcript: Do any particular cases during his time on the Court of Appeals stand out in your mind as being particularly revealing of his legal or social philosophy?

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick considers important court cases that came about during Vinson's tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that reflected either his judicial or social ideologies. Additionally, Pedrick recalls what he knew of Vinson's personal life and interests outside of work.

Keywords: Anti-trust law; Bridge; Court cases; Fred M. Vinson; Majority opinion; Personal life; Thurman Arnold; U.S. Courts of Appeals; Visiting; Washington (D.C.); Wife; Working hours

Subjects: American Medical Association; Children; Competition; Conservative; Fishing; Hiking; Judges; Professor; Public interest; Recreation; Running; Work

00:26:14 - Vinson and Kentucky politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, along those lines, um, you've already mentioned that he had talked abou--a lot about Kentucky--

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick briefly discusses the possibility that Vinson wanted to run for a state office in Kentucky. Vinson's relationships with other Kentucky politicians as Pedrick understood them are also detailed.

Keywords: "Political wars"; Alben Barkley; Congress; Fred M. Vinson; Happy Chandler; Kentucky politics; National office; Politics

Subjects: Kentucky; Politicians

00:28:41 - World War II years

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Partial Transcript: In 1942 Judge Vinson was named Chief Judge of the Emergency Court of Appeals. Uh, is there any particular reason why you think he was chosen--(coughs)--for that position?

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick speculates upon why Vinson was chosen to be on the Emergency Courts of Appeals. Subsequently, Pedrick talks his and Vinson's work in President Roosevelt's cabinet during World War II. Specifically, the two worked in the Office of Economic Stabilization. Pedrick's experience in handling casework related to the oil industry is also recalled.

Keywords: Assignments; Commitment; Contacts; Crude oil; Decision; Differential price system; Ed Prichard; Formal proceedings; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Fred M. Vinson; Friendships; Interior Department; Judgement; Legal clerk; Office of Economic Stabilization; Office of Price Administration; Paul Porter; Reporter; Security; Style; Talent; Tax division; Temporary; Tension; U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals; White House; Wilbur Lester; World War II

Subjects: Cooperation; Experience; Judges; Mutual friend; People; Prices; Publications; Staff; Standard Oil Company; World War, 1939-1945

00:40:29 - Embarrassing moment / Vinson and Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Partial Transcript: One of the most embarrassing episodes I ever had was with him.

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick remembers an embarrassing work-related moment with Vinson. Pedrick also describes the relationship between Vinson and Roosevelt throughout the years, especially while Vinson was working in Roosevelt's presidential cabinet (within the Office of Economic Stabilization).

Keywords: "Hold the line order"; Busy; Charter; Commodity cases; Courts; Federal register; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Fred M. Vinson; Immune; Intelligent; Internal Revenue Service (IRS); Judges; Lesson; Mistakes; Obligations; Office of Economic Stabilization; Salary stabilization; Unreachable; Wayne Morris

Subjects: Embarrassment; Food; Gratitude; National security; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Time

00:48:40 - Military service / after World War II

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Partial Transcript: Of course as you mentioned, he, he left that agency and went onto several others.

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick discusses his military service during World War II. Pedrick also talks of how future president Lyndon Johnson gave him a recommendation in order to serve in the marines. Additionally, Pedrick explains why he declined to work for Vinson after World War II.

Keywords: Ed Prichard; Fred M. Vinson; Iowa; Lyndon B. Johnson; Marine Corps; Military service; Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Obligations; Physical; References; U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals; U.S. Navy; United States Secretary of the Treasury; Washington (D.C.); World War II

Subjects: Dean; United States. Department of Justice; World War, 1939-1945

00:52:48 - Chief Justice Vinson

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Partial Transcript: What was your reaction to his appointment to the court? Were you surprised?

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick considers what Vinson was like in his role as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The dynamics between the justices are articulated as well.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Cases; Chief Justice; Committees; Congress; Divisions; Enjoyment; Enthusiasm; Exercise of power; Felix Frankfurter; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Fred M. Vinson; Harry S. Truman; Judgement; Legal clerks; Politicians; Relationships; Service; Supreme Court; U.S. Constitution; U.S. Court of Appeals; Uncomplicated; Warren E. Burger; White House

Subjects: African Americans; Conciliator; Cooperation; Federal government; Instinct; Judges; Justices; Northerner; Patriot; Respect; Salaries; Southerner

00:59:58 - Resolution honoring Vinson / Truman's swearing-in ceremony

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Partial Transcript: I was--when he died, I was asked to write the, uh ,resolution for the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States at the ceremony.

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick relays his experience of writing a resolution to honor the memory of Vinson in a memorial service put on by the Bar of the Supreme Court. Following this, Pedrick talks of Vinson's role in President Truman's swearing-in ceremony.

Keywords: Committees; Dissent; Fred M. Vinson; George Wharton Pepper; Harry S. Truman; Intensity; Oaths; Presidents; Resolutions; Simon Sobeloff; Supreme Court; Swearing-in; White House; Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer

Subjects: Death; Intelligence; Memorial service

01:05:25 - Vinson's performance as Chief Justice

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Partial Transcript: Um, I guess in getting near the end of the interview I'd like to ask you, uh, how you would evaluate Vinson's overall career as, as Chief Justice.

Segment Synopsis: Pedrick assesses Vinson's ability as a Chief Justice, including a comparison with other notable Chief Justices. Additionally, Pedrick examines the career of Vinson in general, and how these previous positions helped him prepare for the role of Chief Justice.

Keywords: Assignments; Careers; Chief Justice; Congressman; Credible; Devoted; Distinction; Fred M. Vinson; House Committee on Ways and Means; Office of Economic Stabilization; Public servants; Service; The South; U.S. Court of Appeals; U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals; Working relationships

Subjects: Branches of government; Good; Judges; Justices; Nature; Responsibility; United States. Department of the Treasury