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The Judge: Character, Cases, Courage
Following his appointment to the U.S. District Court in 1967, Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr. embarked on what can be conservatively described as a distinguished, momentous and tumultuous 31 year tenure on the Federal bench. He fought against the entrenched powers of the status quo to promote racial and gender equality, protect the environment, uphold the rule of law and the US Constitution. Most notable were the cases on mass school busing to bring about the desegregation of public schools in Richmond, VA, the former Confederate Capital. The public’s violent opposition to the Judge’s rulings mandating busing led to an incendiary backlash requiring 24/7 police protection for the Judge and his family. The Judge’s life was threatened, the lives of his family threatened, his home picketed, his guest house burned, his dog shot, he was hung in effigy, and spit on in public. Through it all the Judge persevered, did what he felt was right and fair, and worked to promote racial equality.
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