President Johnson:Judge and Mrs. Marshall, and their two attractive young boys, Mr. Justice Black, Mr. Justice Clark, Distinguished Attorney General Katzenbach, the Honorable J. Edgar Hoover, members of Congress, my distinguished guests and friends. Since assuming the presidency more than a year and a half ago, I've made a total of 370 major appointments to the federal government. In each of these appointments, it has been my goal and my determination to seek out the best-qualified man or woman in the nation for the job, regardless of their party, or their race, or their sex. That goal is fulfilled today, as we meet here for the installation of Justice Marshall, as the 33rd solicitor general of the United States. By this act, we pay honor to a high office in the American government, to a man, and most of all, to the law.
Thurgood Marshall symbolizes what is best about our American society-the belief that human rights must be satisfied through the orderly processes of law. For at the pinnacle of our system of the law is the great Supreme Court of the United States. And the solicitor general is our first advocate before that great court. So it is a cause of profound satisfaction for me, that in Judge Marshall, we shall have an advocate whose life-long concern has been the pursuit of justice for his fellow man. For although his client will always be the United States of America, his interest does not always rest in trial. As Mr. Justice Sutherland once observed, the government's paramount interest is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. That is the interest that we vest in the solicitor general. In performing it, he serves not only the executive branch, but he serves the court itself. Traditionally, it has relied on him to set the standard for all the American bar in the country to follow.
The position of solicitor general is one of tremendous responsibility, and it is also, that able scholar Archibald Cox, President Kennedy's solicitor general, who said: "The finest lawyer's position in all the world." I want to say at this point that few men have served more forcefully or more successfully as solicitor general of the United States than Archibald Cox. As I noted when I accepted his resignation, Mr. Cox has argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other living man, and he will hold that record at least until Thurgood Marshall. He has argued those cases with remarkable effectiveness. His return to private life has left a void that can only be filled by a great professional from among the highest ranks of the American Bar.
The life and the accomplishments of Thurgood Marshall testify that he is such a man. As chief counsel to the NAACP, he represented his clients not as Negroes-his cases were special and different-but he represented them as Americans, with the same rights and the same responsibilities that the Constitution is supposed to give to every citizen. The cases in which Judge Marshall became involved are already a part of the social and legal history of our time. From 1940 on, Thurgood Marshall was in the vanguard of the legal effort against discrimination in higher education, against discrimination in housing, against discrimination in voting. Then, in 1954 came the climax toward which this good man had labored so brilliantly for so long. The Supreme Court school desegregation decision launched the great movement to end the injustice that's too often inflicted on our Negro citizens. I've asked our cabinet officer, Mr. Gardner the [Secretary of] HEW [Health, Education and Welfare], to have his men work around the clock to make the desegregation decision of the Supreme Court a reality and a fact. I'm glad that we're approaching it with such effectiveness, and I hope we'll complete the job between now and the time the school term is over.
A decade later, some may have forgotten how much courage, how much work, and how much faith in the nation that these efforts demanded, but I think all of us remember his vision and his unyielding pursuit of justice. In 1961, he was appointed by our beloved President JFK, to one of the nation's highest courts and the past four years. He has written a distinguished record there. No one who knew this man expected it to be otherwise. No one who knew him thought he would say 'no' when a new and even more compelling challenge was presented to him by his president. He accepted this assignment for one reason: because he knew that he was needed. And because he always responded when he has been needed. I think it might be observed that Thurgood Marshall is the first Negro in the history of the United States ever to become the solicitor general.
Thurgood Marshall is already in the front ranks of the great lawyers of this generation. He has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court. He has won 29 of them, and that's a batting average of 900. It is likely that should he continue in his present assignment for the next three years, he could very well argue 50 more cases before the highest court in the land. That would make him try more cases before the Supreme Court than any man in history had ever presented to that body.
What is more relevant is that his nation has now progressed to the point-in large measure because of some of the things that he has done-that race really no longer really serves a bar to the exercise of experience, or as a bar to the exercise of one's skill. So with the gratitude for what he has done for all the people of America, and with confidence in his leadership to come, this morning we gather here in the cabinet room in the great capital of the United States, where we hope very shortly we will have home rule and select our own officials, to salute Thurgood Marshall, the great American, the new solicitor general of the United States of America [applause].
Thurgood Marshall: I, Thurgood Marshall, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I will bear the true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.
Justice Hugo Black: Marshall, with the president's permission, I want to say a word or two-
President Johnson: I want to present the Justice here, as one of the most compassionate men I have ever known, one of the great fighters for people in this country, one of the most just men I know, but most distinguished because he's one of great athletes of our time.
Justice Black: I wanted to say that I have great pleasure in administering this honor. That is not said formally. It is not said conventionally. It is not a casual statement. I am happy to give you the oath of office for one or two very shortly stated reasons. The office of solicitor general as stated by the president is of the greatest importance to the people of this nation. Solicitor general is the trial advocate of the people of the nation, of the people of the nation. Which I know no one understands better than you. It has been filled by great men. I have seen you cross swords with at least one of them, in a very famous case [referring to former Solicitor General John W. Davis and Brown v. Board of Education]. He was a great lawyer. You showed at that time, what I believe to be the first and most essential characteristic of a trial advocate, you hold your anger. You control your spirit. You do not let anything divert you from the course that a true lawyer follows.
I am happy to give you the oath, agreeing with all the president said about Archibald Cox as a great solicitor general. I predict that you also will be a great solicitor general. You have the qualifications that are needed-you're a lawyer. I have seen you in action. You're the kind that can serve the people of this nation, and I welcome you on that plate.
Thurgood Marshall: The only thing that I can say at this stage is that when I came into this room, I had the determination to do the best job that could be done in this position with as many hours of the day as I could stay awake. But after listening to our president, and Mr. Justice Black, the only thing I can add to it is, I'll just have to find some more hours and some more days to be able to live up to the faith that the two of them have in what has to be done for the country. Thank you very much, Mr. President [applause].