Then-senator Lyndon Johnson and House Speaker Sam Rayburn each considered Thornberry a valuable ally and close personal friend. They constituted part of a small minority of southern congressmen who helped pass watershed civil rights bills amid social upheaval. His membership on the powerful House Rules Committee was critical to advancing President Kennedy’s New Frontier agenda. Thornberry also spearheaded legislation supporting higher education and deaf communities.
After his transition to the federal judiciary, Thornberry continued to push for civil rights reform as a district judge and later as a member of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which served most of the Deep South at the time. He wrote the majority opinion that found Texas’s poll tax on state elections to be unconstitutional. Thornberry was also assigned to hundreds of controversial desegregation cases, playing an integral part in integrating public schools across the South. As president, Lyndon Johnson nearly succeeded in placing Thornberry on the US Supreme Court.
Written by his grandson, this book takes a critical look at Thornberry’s compelling life story and distinguished career.
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Published by Texas Christian University Press