Remarks from U.S. Judge Gergel on Pioneering Civil Rights Judge
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel gave an address at the LSC’s board meeting in Charleston on civil rights hero U.S. District Judge Julius Waties Waring. He described Judge Waring’s important role in dismantling segregation in South Carolina and how he helped pave the way for Brown v. Board of Education. It was Judge Waring who, in a compelling dissent, deemed that segregation was “per se inequality.” He was the first federal judge to hold that position since Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.
Judge Gergel is himself a well-respected jurist, perhaps best known for issuing a landmark ruling in 2014 that overturned South Carolina’s same-sex marriage bans. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his decision in that case. Judge Gergel is currently presiding over the trial of Dylann Roof, who is charged with killing nine people during a prayer meeting at a historic Charleston church. He now presides in the same courtroom as his predecessor Judge Waring, and has conducted extensive research on Waring’s career and contributions to advancing civil rights.