Interview with Willard H. Pedrick, October 22, 1976

Project: Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

This interview begins with Willard Pedrick relating the story of how he became Fred Vinson's first law clerk, which leads into reminisces of Pedrick's initial impressions of Vinson and how Vinson took the transition of moving from Congress to the court system. Pedrick goes into some detail of how Vinson's office was organized, including how Vinson decided to use his law clerks. He describes what he feels was Vinson's philosophy on law and how some of Vinson's judgements came from his earlier work on New Deal legislation in Congress. Pedrick gives his opinion of why Vinson accepted his appointment to the court. He then goes on to discuss Vinson's relationship with Justice Lawrence Groner and the other judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. An anti-trust case Vinson sat on against the American Medical Association is described. Pedrick reminisces about Vinson's enthusiasm for playing cards, his relationship with his law clerks, and social life in Washington. He talks about Vinson keeping in touch with Kentucky politics while he was on the court, which leads to a mentioning of Vinson's opinion of A. B. "Happy" Chandler and Alben Barkley. Pedrick gives his view of the reason Vinson was appointed to the U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals and what he felt was Vinson's logic for leaving the court for the Office of Economic Stabilization (OES). He tells the story of how he got Wilbur Lester to take his place as law clerk after working with Vinson for a year because Vinson was reluctant to let him go. This lead to the story of how Vinson arranged for Pedrick to work for him in the OES. He then goes into a discussion of the staff at the OES and the structure of the office at the time. Pedrick talks about working on oil industry cases, which leads to a story about an embarrassing incident with a reporter. This leads into another anecdote about a salary stabilization regulations draft sent from the Internal Revenue Service and Pedrick's embarrassment after not reviewing the draft before giving it to Vinson. He relates what he feels was Vinson's philosophy on economic stabilization and following Franklin D. Roosevelt's "hold the line" order. He talks about Vinson resisting political pressure while in Roosevelt's cabinet. Pedrick tells the story of wanting to enter the military and Ed Prichard recommending that he go to Lyndon Johnson to get help on getting into the Marines. He goes on to relate the story of Vinson relieving him of an obligation to work for him after Pedrick returned from the service. Pedrick gives his opinion of Vinson's appointment to the Supreme Court. This leads to a discussion of Vinson's relationships with Presidents FDR and Harry S. Truman. Pedrick relates a story about Vinson sitting on a ruling on some legislation dealing with the salaries of federal judges that he had worked on in Congress.The reason Truman appointed Vinson to the Court is discussed, which leads to an analysis of Vinson's relationship with Justice Felix Frankfurter. Pedrick talks about Vinson enjoying his role as chief justice. He talks about Vinson's dissent on the "steel seizure" case (Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer), which leads to a story about Pedrick writing the memorial resolution for the Bar of the Supreme court of the U.S. at Vinson's death. He reminisces about Vinson swearing Truman in as president. Pedrick gives his opinion of Vinson's career. He closes the interview by giving his view of why Vinson declined to run for president in 1952.

Interview Accession

1976oh081_vin023

Interviewee Name

Willard H. Pedrick

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1976-10-22

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.

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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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Pedrick, Willard H. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 22 Oct. 1976. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Pedrick, W.H. (1976, October 22). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Pedrick, Willard H., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. October 22, 1976, Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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