|Howell Thomas Heflin|
|Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics|
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1992
|Preceded by||Ted Stevens|
|Succeeded by||Terry Sanford|
|United States Senator
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1997
|Preceded by||John J. Sparkman|
|Succeeded by||Jeff Sessions|
|Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court|
|Preceded by||Hon. J. Ed Livingston|
|Succeeded by||Hon. C. C. Torbert, Jr.|
June 19, 1921|
|Died||March 29, 2005
|Alma mater||Birmingham-Southern College
University of Alabama School of Law
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1942–1946|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Purple Heart (2)
Howell Thomas Heflin (June 19, 1921 – March 29, 2005) was an American politician who served in the United States Senate, representing Alabama, from 1979 to 1997. He was a member of the Democratic Party.
Howell Heflin was born on June 19, 1921 in Poulan, Georgia. He attended public school in Alabama, having graduated from Colbert County High School in Leighton. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942 from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He was also the nephew of prominent white supremacist politician James Thomas Heflin and greatnephew of U.S. Representative Robert Stell Heflin.
During World War II, from 1942 to 1946, he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat and recipient of two Purple Heart medals, having seen action on Bougainville and Guam.
After World War II, he attended the University of Alabama School of Law, from which he graduated in 1948. Prior to his election to the Alabama Supreme Court, he served as a law professor, while concurrently practicing law in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
In 1970, Heflin was elected to the post of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, serving from 1971 to 1977.
In 1978, Heflin was elected to the United States Senate to succeed fellow Democrat John Sparkman, who had been Adlai E. Stevenson's running-mate in 1952, when slated against Richard M. Nixon on the Republican ticket. Heflin won his party's nomination to succeed Sparkman by defeating U.S. Representative Walter Flowers of Tuscaloosa, a long-time George C. Wallace ally. The 1966 Republican gubernatorial nominee, former U.S. Representative James D. Martin of Gadsden, announced that he would challenge Heflin. In 1962, Martin had waged a strong but losing Republican campaign against then U.S. Senator J. Lister Hill of Montgomery. However, Martin switched to a second Senate race for a two-year term created by the sudden death of Senator James B. Allen. The change in races left Heflin without Republican opposition in 1978.
In 1984, Heflin won his second Senate term by handily defeating Republican former U.S. Representative Albert Lee Smith, Jr., of Birmingham, who had hoped to win by running on the coattails of U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan.
Heflin became Chairman of the Select Committee on Ethics. While on the Ethics Committee, he led the prosecution against fellow Democratic Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada for violations of Senate rules.
He strongly opposed legal abortion and all gun control laws. Heflin supported prayer in public schools and opposed extending federal laws against discrimination to homosexuals. He supported the Gulf War of 1991 and opposed cuts in defense spending. With Fritz Hollings from South Carolina, he was one of only two Democrats in the Senate to vote against the Family and Medical Leave Act. He occasionally voted with Republicans on taxes. On other economic issues he was more in sync with the populist wing of his party. He voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and attempts to weaken enforcement of consumer protection measures. He strongly supported affirmative action laws. He memorably voted against the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court, having complained of the nominee's lack of experience.
During his tenure, Heflin was considered to have bipartisan support if he were nominated by President Reagan for a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Heflin did not wish to serve on the highest court in the United States.
On July 19, 1994, Senator Heflin was dining in the Capitol with some Alabama reporters, and felt like he had to sneeze. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bit of fabric and began to wipe his nose with a pair of ladies' underwear. His office later released the following press release: [This morning] "I mistakenly picked up a pair of my wife's white panties and put them in my pocket while I was rushing out the door to go to work. Rather than take a chance on being embarrassed again, I'm going to start buying colored handkerchiefs."
Upon seeing photos in the National Enquirer showing U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy copulating with an unknown woman on the deck of Kennedy's boat, he was said to have noted that he was glad Senator Kennedy had "changed his position on offshore drilling".
Senator Heflin lived at his long-time residence in Tuscumbia until his death on March 29, 2005 of a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Ann, his son H. Thomas Jr., known as Tom, and two grandchildren.
The University of Alabama School of Law has honored Heflin with the "Howell Heflin Conference Room" in the Bounds Law Library. There is a street named "Howell Heflin Lane" in Tuscumbia. The Howell Heflin Lock and Dam in Alabama is named in his honor. The Howell T. Heflin Seminar room in the Birmingham-Southern College Library is also named in his honor.
In popular culture
- "Howell Heflin". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- "Heflin, Howell Thomas, (1921 - 2005)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
- Pear, Robert (March 30, 2005). "Howell Heflin, Former Alabama Senator, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- "Howell T. Heflin". Encyclopedia of Alabama. September 14, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- Time. June 12, 2009 http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/06/12/moving-day/
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- Kahn, Joseph P. (February 19, 2009). "An untidy private life, then a turn to stability". The Boston Globe.
- Pear, Robert (March 30, 2005). "Howell Heflin, Former Alabama Senator, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
- Allison, Major Fred H., USMC. "Interview With a Senator and a Marine". Marines and Corpsmen who served with the 1st Battalion 9th Marines. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- Howell Heflin at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Howell Heflin at Find a Grave
- "Biography of Senator Howell Heflin". John J. Sparkman Center, United States Army. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
- Oral History Interview with Howell Heflin from Oral Histories of the American South
J. Ed Livingston
|Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama
C. C. Torbert, Jr.
|United States Senate|
John J. Sparkman
|United States Senator (Class 2) from Alabama
Served alongside: Donald W. Stewart, Jeremiah Denton, Richard Shelby
|Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee