Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Carl Tobias


Professor Tobias pays tribute to Byron R. White, who was a twentieth-century Renaissance person. At the University of Colorado, he captured honors as the valedictorian and as an All-American football player. In 1939, White attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He then compiled the best academic record in the Yale Law School first-year class and later served as a judicial clerk for Chief Justice Fred Vinson. During 1962, President John F. Kennedy appointed White to the Supreme Court, and the jurist rendered distinguished service for three decades.

This essay affords three examples of White's acute sensitivity to process. One was a perceptive rendition of Supreme Court responsibility for amending the rules which mainly govern federal district court practice. The second was White's careful stewardship of a federal appellate court study authorized by Congress after the jurist had resigned. Another was his persistent dissents from denials of petitions for Supreme Court review. These illustrations, which relate to the three levels in the federal judicial hierarchy, demonstrate Justice Byron White's abiding concern for each constituent and the whole system as well as his keen appreciation of how valuable process can be.