Sidney Carr Mize was the US district judge who presided in the case of Meredith v. Fair, which resulted in the integration of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Mize was born in Scott County on 7 March 1888 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College in 1908. He earned a law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1911 and entered private practice in Gulfport. He served as a district attorney in 1914 and as a Harrison County judge and chancery judge in the 1930s. In 1937 Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Mize to succeed Edwin R. Holmes as US district judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. Mize held the post of chief district judge from 1961 to 1962.
In 1961 James Meredith filed suit against the University of Mississippi, which had denied his application for admission. Mize heard the case, during which the university registrar testified that he “gave no consideration whatsoever to the race or color of the plaintiff.” On 3 February 1962 Mize ruled that the University of Mississippi did not have a policy of denying admission to qualified African Americans and that Meredith’s rejection had not resulted from his race.
On appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Mize’s decision and remanded the case with instructions to order Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi. Mize did so, and Meredith registered on 1 October 1962.
Mize collapsed on the bench and died on 26 April 1965.
- Meredith v. Fair, 202 F. Supp. 224 (1962), 298 F.2d 696 (1962), 305 F.2d 343 (1962)
- James Meredith, Three Years in Mississippi (1966)