On August 27, 1967, Robert R. Merhige, Jr., was commissioned as a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, the embarkment upon what many members of the legal community have labeled a controversial judicial career. However, examination of Judge Merhige's numerous decisions reveals that his image as a disputatius public figure has been more than a function of his flare for vehemently enforcing pronouncements and policies of the Supreme Court. The man, who created fervor throughout this state and the South with his publicly chastised busing decisions of the early 1970s, has been a victim of timing rather than an implementor of unprecedented legal reasoning. He was appointed to the bench amidst the turmoil of an emotionally charged social climate and at a time when the federal forum was beginning to expand and blossom for a host of grievances such as school busing, sexual discrimination and prisoners rights. Oddly, throughout his judicial career, Judge Merhige has perceived himself as a "strict constructionist"' striving avidly to adhere to judicial precedents in decisions transcending the spectrum of constitutional issues. It is the intent of this note to examine Judge Merhige's judicial philosophy in the areas of equal protection, the first amendment, due process and administrative law as compared to federal precedents and trends existing at the time of his opinions.
Paul K. Campsen, P. C. Guedri, Jennings G. Ritter II & Edward H. Starr Jr.,
Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr. - Strict Constructionist Weathers the Storm,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol12/iss4/5
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