OF THOSE WHO have devoted their lives to public service, none gave more and asked less in requiet, unassuming, self-effacing man, Judge Fahy was easily mistaken for the kind of person who is content to stand aside and latch the world go by. But he was something completely different. That shy manner cloaked an intellect so powerful that his imprint has been fixed on the law for years to come. His intellect was matched by his compassion.
Over the years, Mr. Fahy was a naval aviator in World War I, the first general counsel of the NLRB, solicitor general, a member of the American delegation to the San Francisco conference and later to the United Nations, legal adviser to the military governor of Germany, chairman of President Truman's committee to eliminate discrimination from the armed forces and, after 1949, a judge of the United States Court of Appeals. Of all the things he did in these and other jobs, Judge Fahy was proudest of two. One was his acknowledged large role in desegregating the military. The other was his dissent, soon after he became a judge, in the Thompson restaurant case. That dissent, like many other he wrote in later years, became the basis for a Supreme Court opinion. But this one was the basis for a unanimous decision that struck down segregation in the District of Columbia's restaurants, theaters and other public places.
Judge David L. Bazelon has called Charles Fahy "the conscience of our court." Judge Skelly Wright says he was "a gentle man who was loved by everybody who knew him." Both are right, Judge Fahy had no enemies, even among those uith whom he disagreed so wholeheartedly during those turbulent years of the 1950s and 1960s when his was a strong voice on the Court of Appeals on behalf of civil rights, individual liberties and personal freedom.
These words of the late J. Warren Madden, chief judge of the Court of Claims for many years, sum up his life: "Charles Fahy's part in the making of the law has not, we think, been surpassed by any lawyer of his generation . . . . This unpretentious human being could, but would not, point to many fundamental features in the present day structure of American constitutional law and say, "The work of my hand is there."