Interview with John Biggs, Jr., August 17, 1976

Project: Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Judge John Biggs, Jr. was a member of the U.S. Circuit Court who begins his interview reminiscing about working with Fred Vinson when he was chief judge of the Third Judicial Court and Vinson was a member of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Biggs mentions Vinson's ambition to be a judge as perhaps a reason for his leaving Congress for the judiciary and he saw Vinson's postponing sitting on the court in order to work on legislation in Congress as natural. He reminisces on Vinson's relationship with the other judges on the court, especially Harold "Hal" Stephens. Vinson's expertise in tax cases is mentioned, which interestingly leads into reminisces of Vinson playing bridge with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Biggs gives his opinion of the reason Vinson was chosen for the court and discusses Vinson's potential as a presidential candidate. He mentions Vinson playing for Centre College while talking about the a famous Centre-Harvard football game. Biggs gives his opinion of Vinson's qualities as a lawyer. He talks about serving with Vinson on the Judicial Conference committee on supporting court personnel and reviews Vinson's effectiveness working on that committee. Biggs discusses Vinson serving as the chief judge of the Emergency Court of Appeals in Washington with Albert Maris. In reviewing the types of cases before the court, Biggs remarks on Vinson's ability with mathematics. He then gives his opinion of Vinson taking the position of director of the Office of Economic Stabilization. Biggs mentions the Al Smith presidential campaign of 1928, its effect in his home state of Delaware, and its effect on Vinson's congressional campaign. He mentions Vinson talking about playing baseball. Biggs gives his opinion of Vinson's appointment as chief justice of the Supreme Court and his effectiveness in that office. He relates Vinson's view of his position on the Court, then goes on to mention how he thought the press treated Vinson unfairly and gives his reasons why. He discusses Vinson increasing the number of law clerks on the Court and allegations that he relied on them too much while in office. Biggs briefly mentions Vinson's relationship with Harry S. Truman. He then goes on to discuss the U.S.A. v. United Mine Workers case. He gives his view of Vinson's attitude toward civil rights and whether Vinson's Court would have made the same ruling on the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case. He goes on to give his opinion of Vinson's career as chief justice of the Supreme Court. He closes by giving his impression of Vinson's personality.

Interview Accession

1976oh071_vin021

Interviewee Name

John Biggs, Jr.

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1976-08-17

Interview LC Subject

Law and legislation

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Restriction

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Biggs, John, Jr. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 17 Aug. 1976. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Biggs, J., Jr. (1976, August 17). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Biggs, John, Jr., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. August 17, 1976, Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7jh98zcp31