The University of Alabama Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr. School of Law and the University of Alabama Law Review are very pleased to host this Symposium in celebration of the life and work of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.
Judge Johnson was a graduate of the School of Law and a proud native of Winston, County, Alabama. He served on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama from 1955 to 1979, and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and, later Eleventh Circuit, from 1979 to 1999. Judge Johnson’s steadfast commitment to enforcing the constitutional rights of all citizens, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, has established him as a great hero of the law. From his Montgomery, Alabama courtroom, Johnson issued dozens of landmark rulings that desegregated virtually all state institutions in Alabama and secured voting rights for all of Alabama’s citizens. Despite being openly vilified by elected state officials, Judge Johnson never wavered in his steadfast commitment to enforcing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said of Johnson that he “gave true meaning to the word ‘justice.’”
Judge Johnson’s lived commitment to securing the rule of law provides an important example to us today – and demonstrates quite clearly that one person can make a tremendous difference to his home state, the nation, and the world.
To mark the occasion of the centennial of Judge Johnson’s birth (on October 30, 1918), this Symposium will recognize and celebrate his legendary courage. No less important, however, it also will consider in some detail the Judge’s many and important substantive legal and jurisprudential contributions. These include landmark desegregation and voting rights precedents, important decisions securing the freedom of speech and other civil liberties, and signal contributions to the law of remedies (notably including his pioneering use of the structural injunction). In sum, Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. was an iconic federal judge and we meet to recognize, engage, and celebrate his life, legacy, and jurisprudential contributions to the law.