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John Johnston Parker (November 20, 1885 – March 17, 1958) was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was an unsuccessful nominee for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1930. He was also the United State's alternate judge at the Nuremberg trials of accused Nazi war criminals and later served on the United Nations' International Law Commission.

John J. Parker
French judges at nuremberg.jpg
Parker (left) with two French judges
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
In office
September 1, 1948 – March 17, 1958
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySimon Sobeloff
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
In office
December 14, 1925 – March 17, 1958
Appointed byCalvin Coolidge
Preceded byCharles Albert Woods
Succeeded byHerbert Stephenson Boreman
Personal details
John Johnston Parker

(1885-11-20)November 20, 1885
Monroe, North Carolina
DiedMarch 17, 1958(1958-03-17) (aged 72)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.)
University of North Carolina School of Law (LL.B.)


Education and careerEdit

Born on November 20, 1885, in Monroe, North Carolina, Parker received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1907 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Bachelor of Laws in 1908 from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He entered private practice in Greensboro, North Carolina from 1908 to 1909. He was in private practice in Monroe from 1909 to 1922. He was a Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives from North Carolina in 1910. He was a candidate for Attorney General of North Carolina in 1916. He was the Republican candidate for Governor of North Carolina in 1920. He was in private practice in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1922 to 1925. He was a special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States from 1923 to 1924.[1]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Parker received a recess appointment from President Calvin Coolidge on October 3, 1925, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated by Judge Charles Albert Woods. He nominated to the same position by President Coolidge on December 8, 1925. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1925, and received his commission the same day. He was a member of the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges (now the Judicial Conference of the United States) from 1931 to 1948, and was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 1948 to 1957. He served as Chief Judge from 1948 to 1958. His service terminated on March 17, 1958, due to his death in Washington, D.C.[1] He was the last appeals court judge who continued to serve in active service appointed by President Coolidge.

Failed Supreme Court nominationEdit

Parker's Supreme Court nomination

On March 21, 1930, Parker was nominated by President Herbert Hoover to the United States Supreme Court, but, as a result of political opposition,[2] was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 39–41; had a single senator switched his vote from rejection to approval, Vice President Charles Curtis would have cast the tie-breaking vote for confirmation of the nomination.[3] Parker was opposed by labor groups because of an opinion he had written regarding the United Mine Workers and yellow-dog contracts and by the nascent NAACP because of remarks he had made while a candidate for governor in 1920 about the participation of African-Americans in the political process: "The participation of the Negro in politics," said Parker, "is a source of evil and danger to both races and is not desired by the wise men in either race or by the Republican Party of North Carolina."[4] The NAACP asked Parker if he had been quoted correctly, and asked him if he still held such views. He never responded.[5] Parker's supporters pointed out that his opinion in the labor case closely followed Supreme Court precedent and his 1920 remarks were in response to charges that the Republican Party was organizing the African-American vote.[citation needed] The rejection of his nomination by the United States Senate was the first such Supreme Court nomination rejected through a roll call vote since that of Wheeler Hazard Peckham in 1894.[6]

Other serviceEdit

From 1945 to 1946, Parker served as an alternate judge on the International Allied Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany.[citation needed] In 1954, he was elected to serve on the United Nations' International Law Commission.[citation needed] He was active in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association which occasionally offers the John J. Parker Award, its highest award.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Parker, John Johnston - Federal Judicial Center".
  2. ^ Watson Jr., Richard L. (September 1963). "The Defeat of Judge Parker: A Study in Pressure Groups and Politics". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 50 (2): 213–234. JSTOR 1902754.
  3. ^ Kenneth W. Goings (1990). The "Naacp Comes of Age": The Defeat of Judge John J. Parker. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-32585-3.
  4. ^ "U.S. Senate: The Senate Rejects a Supreme Court Nominee".
  5. ^ Sullivan., Patricia (2009). Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: The New Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-59558-446-5.
  6. ^ McMillion, Barry J.; Rutkus, Denis Steven (July 6, 2018). "Supreme Court Nominations, 1789 to 2017: Actions by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and the President" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress (RL33225). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. Retrieved June 29, 2019.

External linksEdit