Homer Thornberry

William Homer Thornberry (January 9, 1909 – December 12, 1995) was an American politician and judge. He served as the United States Representative from the 10th congressional district of Texas from 1949 to 1963. From 1963 to 1965 he was Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, and he was a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1965 to 1978.

Homer Thornberry
Homer Thornberry.jpg
From 1961's Pocket Congressional Directory of the Eighty-Seventh Congress
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
In office
December 21, 1978 – December 12, 1995
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
In office
July 1, 1965 – December 21, 1978
Appointed byLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byJoseph Chappell Hutcheson Jr.
Succeeded byReynaldo Guerra Garza
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
In office
December 17, 1963 – July 2, 1965
Nominated byJohn F. Kennedy
Appointed byLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byR. Ewing Thomason
Succeeded byJack Roberts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 10th district
In office
January 3, 1949 – December 20, 1963
Preceded byLyndon B. Johnson
Succeeded byJ. J. Pickle
Personal details
Born
William Homer Thornberry

(1909-01-09)January 9, 1909
Austin, Texas
DiedDecember 12, 1995(1995-12-12) (aged 86)
Austin, Texas
Resting placeTexas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Eloise Engle (m. 1945-1989, her death)
Marian Harris Gilliam (m. 1990-1995, his death)
Children3
EducationUniversity of Texas at Austin (BBA)
University of Texas School of Law (LLB)
ProfessionAttorney

Early lifeEdit

Thornberry was born in Austin, Texas. His parents were teachers in the State School for the Deaf and were themselves deaf.[1] He attended public schools in Austin and graduated from Austin High School in 1927.[citation needed] He received a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1932 from the University of Texas at Austin and his Bachelor of Laws in 1936, from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was a member of the Acacia fraternity. He was in private practice of law in Austin from 1936 to 1941. He was a Member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1937 to 1941. He was district attorney of Travis County, Texas from 1941 to 1942. He was a United States Navy Lieutenant Commander from 1942 to 1946. He was in private practice of law in Austin from 1946 to 1948. He was a Member of the Austin City Council from 1946 to 1948.[2]

United States RepresentativeEdit

Thornberry was elected in 1948 to the 81st United States Congress as a United States Representative of the 10th congressional district of Texas. In winning the seat, he replaced its former occupant, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been elected that year for the first time to the United States Senate. Thornberry was a member of the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives from January 1955 to his 1963 resignation, when he was appointed by Johnson, now President, to the federal bench.[3]

He was one of the majority of the Texan delegation to decline to sign the 1956 Southern Manifesto opposing the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education. Thornberry voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 but in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[4][5][6]

Thornberry was present on Air Force One and witnessed Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office following the assassination of President Kennedy.

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Thornberry was nominated by President John F. Kennedy on July 9, 1963, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas vacated by Judge R. Ewing Thomason. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 15, 1963, and received his commission from President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 17, 1963. His service was terminated on July 2, 1965, due to elevation to the Fifth Circuit.[2]

Thornberry was nominated by President Johnson on June 22, 1965, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated by Judge Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Jr. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 1, 1965, and received his commission the same day. He assumed senior status on December 21, 1978. His service was terminated on December 12, 1995, due to his death.[2]

Aborted Supreme Court nominationEdit

Thornberry was nominated for Abe Fortas' seat on the United States Supreme Court by President Johnson, who nominated Fortas to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice. However, once Fortas withdrew his nomination in October 1968, Thornberry's nomination became moot and was withdrawn by the White House without a vote. Thornberry was the last Supreme Court nominee to have served in Congress.[2]

DeathEdit

 
Homer Thornberry grave marker at Texas State Cemetery.

Thornberry died on December 12, 1995, at his home in Austin[2] and was interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.[7]

He was first married to the former Eloise Engle (1919–1989).[1] After her death he wed Marian Davis. With his first wife, Thornberry was the father of three children, Molly, David, and Kate.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Weil, Martin (December 13, 1995). "Homer Thornberry Dies at 86". Washington Post. Washington, DC.
  2. ^ a b c d e William Homer Thornberry at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ "William Homer Thornberry". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  4. ^ "HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957". GovTrack.us.
  5. ^ "HR 8601. PASSAGE".
  6. ^ "S.J. RES. 29. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO BAN THE USE OF POLL TAX AS A REQUIREMENT FOR VOTING IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS". GovTrack.us.
  7. ^ "Burial Entry, William Homer Thornberry". Texas State Cemetery. Austin, TX: Texas State Preservation Board. Retrieved January 5, 2020.

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lyndon B. Johnson
Member of the United States House of Representatives
from Texas's 12th congressional district

1949–1963
Succeeded by
J. J. Pickle
Legal offices
Preceded by
R. Ewing Thomason
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
1963–1965
Succeeded by
Jack Roberts
Preceded by
Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Jr.
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
1965–1978
Succeeded by
Reynaldo Guerra Garza