1953 January 21

And When He was Good: Herbert Brownell, Jr., Becomes Attorney General


Herbert Brownell was President Dwight Eisenhower’s Attorney General from this day through the fall of 1957. In that capacity, he played a pivotal role in convincing Eisenhower that the administration should file a brief opposing school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education (May 17, 1954), and also that the administration should be prepared to make the oral argument that Plessy v. Ferguson should be overturned. Brownell also took a strong position on other civil rights issues.

Brownell, however, was a passionate anti-Communist and supported measures that infringed on civil liberties, including the Communist Control Act (August 24, 1954). Also, he drafted a memo for President Eisenhower that articulated the concept of executive privilege (May 17, 1954), which subsequent presidents relied on for expanded power.

Read Brownell’s Memoirs: Herbert Brownell (with John P. Burke), Advising Ike: The Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell (1993)

Watch an oral history interview with Brownell: http://series.c-span.org/Events/Oral-Histories-Former-Attorney-General-Herbert-Brownell/10737439282/

Read Brownell’s official Justice Department biography (with links to his speeches): http://www.justice.gov/ag/aghistpage.php?id=61

Learn more about Brownell: http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.law.010

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