US judge. He was US district judge in Alabama 1955–79. In his first judgement from that bench in 1956, he declared segregation on Alabama city buses unconstitutional. He effectively desegregated Alabama's schools, bus terminals, and public facilities of all kinds; in 1960 he became the first federal judge to draw up a court-ordered legislative reapportionment; in 1962 he put an end to discriminatory voter registration; and in 1965 he ordered that Martin Luther King Jr be allowed to lead the civil-rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
He was born in Winston County, Alabama. After taking his law degree at the University of Alabama in 1943, he served in World War II as an infantry captain 1943–45. He went into private practice from 1946 to 1955. He soon found himself ostracized by many in Alabama; his mother's house was bombed; a cross was burned outside his house; Governor George Wallace (1919–98), a law school classmate, called him an ‘integrating, carpetbagging, scalawagging bold-faced liar’. In 1977 he was nominated to head the FBI, but health problems prevented him from accepting. He served on the US Court of Appeals 1979–91. He came to be honoured, even in the South, as a major force in breaking down the old forms of discrimination and injustice in the USA.