Frank Johnson, U.S. Federal judge

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Frank Minis Johnson, Jr.

Birthdate: (81)
Death: 1999 (81)
Immediate Family:

Son of Frank Minis Johnson and Alabama Johnson

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About Frank Johnson, U.S. Federal judge

Frank Minis Johnson, Jr. (October 30, 1918 – July 23, 1999) was a United States Federal judge, made a number of landmark civil rights rulings that helped end segregation in the South. In the words of journalist and historian Bill Moyers, Judge Johnson "altered forever the face of the South."


An alumnus of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law (one of Johnson's classmates was future Governor George C. Wallace, who would be Johnson's bête noire in the civil rights litigation of the 1960s), Johnson served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, while his wife, Ruth (also a classmate from the University of Alabama) served in the WAVES as an advisor to Hollywood filmmakers. After military service, Johnson entered private law practice in Jasper, Alabama from 1946 to 1953. He was a delegate from Alabama to the 1948 Republican National Convention, and served as a U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, 1953-55.

Federal Judicial Service

Judge of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, 1955–1979;
Received a recess appointment from President Dwight Eisenhower on October 22, 1955, to a seat vacated by Charles B. Kennamer; nominated on January 12, 1956; Confirmed by the United States Senate on January 31, 1956, and received his commission on February 1, 1956. Served as chief judge, 1966-1979. Service terminated on July 12, 1979, due to his next judicial appointment. Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1979–1981;
Nominated by President Jimmy Carter on April 2, 1979, to a new seat; Confirmed by the Senate on June 19, 1979, and received his commission on June 21, 1979. Service terminated on October 1, 1981, due to assignment to another court. Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit 1981-1999;
Reassigned October 1, 1981; Assumed senior status on October 30, 1991. He was succeeded on the bench by Edward Earl Carnes. Service terminated on July 23, 1999, upon his death. 

[edit] FBI Nomination

In 1977 President Carter and Attorney General Griffin Bell asked Johnson to become FBI Director when Director Clarence M. Kelley stepped down. However the day after Carter nominated him, Johnson was found to have an aneurysm, or abnormal swelling, of his abdominal aorta, and later had to withdraw from the nomination.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.

Notable Decisions

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Frank Johnson, U.S. Federal judge's Timeline

Age 81