As attorney general, Clark designed and defended much of President Harry S Truman’s domestic anticommunism program. As a Supreme Court justice, he supported these and similar state-level loyalty programs and, in the Warren Court, opposed efforts to curb those programs.
Born into a family of Texas lawyers, Clark served in World War I and received a bachelor’s degree in 1921 from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from the same school in 1922. He practiced law in his father’s Dallas firm, served as the civil district attorney for Dallas County, and gained the respect and friendship of leading Texas Democratic politicians including Senator Tom Connally and Congressman Sam Rayburn.
Tom C. Clark
The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 brought young Clark the opportunity to work for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. While at the department, Clark worked on wartime claims and the evacuation of Japanese
Clark’s service in the Justice Department laid the groundwork for his later career. Then Missouri senator Harry S Truman
Preparing for the 1948 presidential election, Clark successfully and accurately refuted claims that the Truman administration was “soft on communism.” His reward came one year after Truman’s 1948 victory when Truman nominated him to the Supreme Court. Clark served Truman well as attorney general, and many believed the nominee would likely support then Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson’s strong anticommunist views. Texas Democratic Party leaders and bar associations supported Clark’s nomination. The Senate confirmed the nomination by a vote of seventy-three to eight.
Associate Justice Clark supported the anticommunist views of the chief justice, usually voting to uphold anticommunist and loyalty
In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s selection of Earl Warren
The appointment of William J. Brennan, Jr., in 1956 signaled the start of liberal dominance of the Court, led by Warren, Hugo L. Black, and William O. Douglas. Clark’s long-held anticommunist views and his willingness to support police and prosecutorial powers of the state contrasted with the views of more liberal Court members. Clark dissented again and again as the Court moved to expand the rights of the accused. Regarding loyalty-security decisions, he was usually in the minority, upholding government power while the majority supported the claims of individuals alleging governmental abuses.
With the arrival of the 1960’s, Clark turned to other matters. He led the Court in deciding Mapp v. Ohio
Family loyalty motivated Clark’s retirement from the Court. In February, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the appointment of Clark’s
Bader, William H., and Roy M. Mersky, eds. The First One Hundred Eight Justices. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 2004. Belknap, Michal R. The Vinson Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2004. Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States: Its Beginnings and Its Justices, 1790-1991. Washington, D.C.: Author, 1992. Kirkendall, Richard. “Tom C. Clark.” In The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions, edited by Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel. New York: Chelsea House, 1997. Urofsky, Melvin I. The Warren Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2001.
Abington School District v. Schempp
Baker v. Carr
Brown v. Board of Education
Civil rights and liberties
Vinson, Fred M.