Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Oral History of Stephen J. Pollak

Stephen J. Pollak (credit)
One of the best things about being on the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit has been the opportunity to work with its president, Stephen J. Pollak.  Mr. Pollak has had a long and important career, including service in many governmental positions, but historians are most likely to have encountered him because of his service in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, where he was John Doar’s first assistant (1965-67) and then Assistant Attorney General in his own right (1967-69).  The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library holds a lengthy oral history Mr. Pollak gave at the end of LBJ’s presidency.  Now the Historical Society of the DC Circuit has posted another as the latest in an extensive series.

Among the oral history’s appendices is Mr. Pollak’s recollection, dictated shortly after the event, of a trip to LBJ’s ranch in September 1967, during which he and other legal nominees met with the president.  Johnson was especially appreciative of Mr. Pollak’s success in steering the Reorganization Plan for the District of Columbia through Congress.  Johnson confessed to feeling sheepish about how the Reorganization Plan had “bypassed the District Committees,” but he then remarked “in a humorous vein that he had campaigned for Congress on the court-packing plan and then when he got to Congress, it had already been defeated.  He drew from this the parallel that it was not wrong to proceed by the Reorganization Plan if this was the only way to get the job done.”