Frank Minis Johnson, Jr. (born October 30, 1918 in Haleyville, Alabama - July 23, 1999 in Montgomery, Alabama) United States Federal judge, made a number of landmark civil rights rulings that helped end segregation in the South. In the words of Bill Moyers, he "altered forever the face of the South."
Learn more about Frank M. Johnson, free from the Academy of Achievement.
Read an interview with Frank M. Johnson, free from the Academy of Achievement. 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 bÍte 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, 1946-1953. Delegate to Republican National Convention from Alabama, 1948; 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 Eisenhower on October 22, 1955, to a seat vacated by Charles B. Kennamer; nominated on January 12, 1956; Confirmed by the Senate on January 31, 1956, and received commission on February 1, 1956. Served as chief judge, 1966-1979. Service terminated on July 12, 1979, due to appointment to another judicial position.
* Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1979-1981;
Nominated by President Carter on April 2, 1979, to a new seat; Confirmed by the Senate on June 19, 1979, and received 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.
In 1977 President Carter and Attorney General Griffin Bell asked him to become FBI Director when Director Kelley stepped down. However the day after President Carter nominated him, Judge Johnson was discovered to have an aneurysm, or abnormal swelling, of his abdominal aorta, and later had to withdraw his name from the nomination.
Medal of Freedom
Johnson also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.