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Way Back Wednesday: First Jewish Man to Serve as Federal Judge
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Jacob Trieber of Helena (Phillips County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the first Jew to serve as a federal judge in the United States. Serving from 1900 to 1927 as judge for the U.S. Circuit Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, he ruled on thousands of cases but his two most influential rulings were: United States v. Hodges and United States v. Morris. Both cases dealt with terrorism on behalf of "Whitecappers"- a group similar to the KKK. In Hodges, Trieber ruled employers had a right to hire whomever they pleased regardless of outside influence and in Morris he established the rights to lease lands and to accept employment for hire are fundamental rights, inherent in every free citizen, regardless of race or color. Both rulings were originally overturned by the post-Reconstruction U.S. Supreme Court but were validated sixty-five years later in a landmark 1968 equal opportunity case- where the majority wrote said of Trieber, "“Judge Trieber’s interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was at last vindicated." Jacob Trieber is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock and this country is a better place because of Arkansan, Jacob Trieber!