|34th Solicitor General of the United States|
October 23, 1967 – March 21, 1973
|President||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|Preceded by||Thurgood Marshall|
|Succeeded by||Robert Bork|
|Dean of Harvard Law School|
|Preceded by||James M. Landis|
|Succeeded by||Derek Bok|
Erwin Nathaniel Griswold
July 14, 1904
East Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||November 19, 1994 (aged 90)|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Education||Oberlin College (BA, MA)|
Harvard University (LLB, SJD)
Erwin Nathaniel Griswold (/
Griswold was born in East Cleveland, Ohio, to Hope (Erwin) and James Harlen Griswold. Griswold graduated from Oberlin College in 1925 with an A.B. in mathematics and an M.A. in political science. He attended Harvard Law School from 1925 to 1929, earning an LL.B. summa cum laude in 1928 and an S.J.D. in 1929. Used by law professionals in all but four of the United States, The Bluebook, a uniform system of legal citation, was first compiled in 1926 by Griswold, while a student at HLS.
In 1929, Griswold was admitted to the Ohio bar and spent six weeks working as a partner in his father's Cleveland law firm of Griswold, Green, Palmer & Hadden. He subsequently joined the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General as a staff attorney and served as a special assistant to the attorney general from 1929 to 1934. There he worked under Solicitor General Charles Evans Hughes, Jr., son of the future Chief Justice of the United States, Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. He became an expert at arguing tax cases before the Supreme Court, and is considered one of the great scholars in tax law.
Griswold joined the Harvard faculty in 1934, first as an associate legal professor, and then as a full professor from 1935 to 1946. Known for a very keen intellect, Griswold was made dean of Harvard Law School from 1946 and served in that capacity until 1967. One of the dominant figures in American legal education, he doubled the size of the faculty, bringing in such legal luminaries as Derek Bok (who succeeded him as Dean, and later became President of Harvard University), Kingman Brewster (later President of Yale University), and Alan Dershowitz. In 1946, just after Griswold was made Dean, Soia Mentschikoff was appointed Visiting Professor, the first woman faculty member in the history of Harvard Law School.
On December 11, 1934, the Harvard Law Review published an article by Griswold titled "Government in Ignorance of the Law – A Plea for Better Publication of Executive Legislation." The arguments Griswold made for orderly publication of the official actions of the Executive Branch were underlined when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan and forced the hand of the committee studying the issue for President Roosevelt. Congress passed legislation to create the Federal Register, and the President signed it into law (Pub. L. 74-220, July 26, 1935). 
As Dean, Griswold enlarged the school's curriculum to include such specialized topics as labor relations, family law, and copyright law. In addition, he expanded the school's physical plant, library holdings, and financial resources. Finally, he began the process of convincing the Harvard Corporation to allow the enrollment of the first female students in 1948, and oversaw it beginning in Autumn of 1950. The Law School was the third graduate school at Harvard to admit women after the Graduate School of Education and the Medical School. It did so twenty-seven years before Harvard College fully admitted women as undergraduates in 1977. In a 1992 Interview, he recalled that at the time, over one-third of the faculty were against the admission of women.
In 1979, as an honorary gesture for his impact on the Harvard community, Harvard dedicated Griswold Hall, housing the dean's office, faculty offices, and a classroom.
In the 1950s, Griswold served as an expert witness for Thurgood Marshall, who was then the legal director of the NAACP, in several cases that the association brought to lay the foundation for the Supreme Court's desegregation order in Brown v. Board of Education.
Earlier in the 1950s Griswold denounced Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in his book The Fifth Amendment Today, which examined the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. A 1960 profile of Mr. Griswold in The New York Times said that "when Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was in full cry against the use of the Fifth Amendment by witnesses accused of Communist ties, one of the most forceful voices in defense of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination was raised by Dean Erwin Nathaniel Griswold of the Harvard Law School."
Griswold was a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission from 1961 to 1967 having been appointed by John F. Kennedy. On May 8th, 1963, in the midst of police violence and massive arrests of schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama, Kennedy held a press conference in which the President answered a reporter's question about the matter of improving U.S. race relations, and a suggestion there was need for a Fireside Chat on Civil Rights, with the claim that the Federal Government had done all it legally could do about the issue. Griswold quickly responded publicly that this was untrue; "It seems clear to me that he hasn't even started to use the powers that are available to him." An angry Kennedy privately fumed, “That son-of-a-bitch! Let him try.” On June 11th, after another crisis—Governor George Wallace blocking the door to the University of Alabama—Kennedy finally gave his Report to the American People on Civil Rights.
On the same day that Griswold retired as Dean and Langdell Professor of Law in 1967, President Johnson appointed him United States Solicitor General. Johnson was a Democrat and Griswold a moderate Republican, but the bipartisan appointment was widely praised. As Solicitor General, Griswold advocated in support of Great Society legislation, and he continued on in the position under President Nixon until 1973. Harriet S. Shapiro became the first woman attorney in the Solicitor General’s office when Griswold hired her in 1972.
As Solicitor General, Griswold unsuccessfully argued against the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times, because such publication would cause a "grave and immediate danger to the security of the United States." Years later, he reversed his position in an op-ed piece entitled "Secrets Not Worth Keeping" in The Washington Post, writing, "I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the publication" of the Pentagon Papers. He suggested that government demands for secrecy be treated with some skepticism by the public.
In 1973, Griswold resigned as Solicitor General and joined the international law firm of Jones Day Reavis & Pogue in Washington, D.C. He continued to argue many cases before the Supreme Court up until his death in 1994. He also served as a mentor to many of the young lawyers in the firm. From 1983 to 1994, he served the U.S. government as a liaison between U.S. and Soviet lawyers in the Lawyers Alliance Nuclear Arms Control. Griswold was also active in the Supreme Court Historical Society, serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the time of his death in 1994.
Griswold also served as a trustee of his undergraduate alma mater, Oberlin College. In October 2014, the President of Oberlin, Marvin Krislov, in a detailed tribute to Griswold, announced the creation of the Erwin N. Griswold '25 Chair in Politics and Law.
Griswold wrote several books including Spendthrift Trusts (1936), Cases on Federal Taxation (1940), Cases on Conflict Laws (1942), and arguably his most popular, The Fifth Amendment Today, Law and Lawyers in the United States (1992). Throughout his career he received numerous honorary degrees from many prestigious universities, including Columbia University, Northwestern University, Brown University, and the University of Sydney. Griswold served as president of the Association of American Law Schools from 1957 to 1958 and as President of the American Bar Foundation from 1971 to 1974. In 1978, the American Bar Association awarded Griswold the gold medal for his outstanding contributions and service to the legal community.
In 1985, at a ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the United States Supreme Court Building, Griswold gave a speech in which he compared the work Ruth Bader Ginsburg had done for women's rights to that which Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall had done for the civil rights of racial minorities. Griswold was on President Jimmy Carter's selection committee for the District of Columbia Circuit which recommended Ginsburg to sit on the United States Court of Appeals there. It was this speech which was used by Martin Ginsburg and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to first lobby President Bill Clinton for the nomination of then-Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the United States Supreme Court and later the United States Senate to confirm Justice Ginsburg. 
Together with William H. Brown III and on behalf of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Griswold testified against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas based on then-Judge Thomas' then-lack of judicial experience and his frequent reference to the legal theory of natural law. Their testimony took place on September 17th, 1991, some 24 days before Anita Hill was called to testify in the Thomas nomination hearings.
Griswold's memoirs were published in 1992 under the title Ould Fields, New Corne: The Personal Memoirs of a Twentieth Century Lawyer.
Erwin Griswold died on November 19, 1994, in Boston, at the age of 90. He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Harriet Allena Ford, two children, as well as five grandchildren.
In popular culture
In the 2014 HBO Films production Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, Peter McRobbie appears as Griswold who, as United States Solicitor General, was tasked with defending the United States Government against Muhammed Ali's litigation in Clay v. United States.
- "Griswold". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- Hurt, Christine (2007). "The Bluebook at Eighteen: Reflecting and Ratifying Current Trends in Legal Scholarship". Indiana Law Journal. 82: 49, 51–52.
- No Writer Attributed (November 15, 1946). "Law School Appoints First Woman to Staff". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- Griswold, Erwin (December 11, 1934). "Government in Ignorance of the Law- A Plea for Better Publication of Executive Legislation" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 48: 198–215. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
- Office of the Federal Register (March 14, 2006). "A Brief History Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Publication of the First Issue of the Federal Register" (PDF). Federal Register. 71 (49): 2. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
- Elliott, Debbie. "'Federal Register' Marks 70th Anniversary". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
- Richards Hope, Judith (2003). Pinstripes and Pearls (1st ed.). New York: A Lisa Drew Book/Scribner. pp. 265–271. ISBN 9781416575252. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- Walsh, Colleen (April 26, 2012). "Hard-earned gains for women at Harvard". The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
- Radd, Victoria L. "Interview of Erwin N. Griswold" (PDF). Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. pp. 15–16. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- "Solicitor General: Erwin N. Griswold". Solicitors General 1870 - Present. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Griswold, Erwin N. (January 1955). The Fifth Amendment Today. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674492585. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- Hevesi, Dennis (November 21, 1994). "Erwin Griswold Is Dead at 90; Served as a Solicitor General" (Page B10). New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- "A Champion of Liberties; Erwin Nathaniel Griswold". New York Times. November 14, 1960. p. 34. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- Kennedy, John Fitzgerald. "News Conference 55, May 8, 1963". Archives. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- "Freedom-Now" (Volume LXXXI, Issue 20). Time Magazine. May 17, 1963. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Reeves, Richard (1993). President Kennedy: Profile of Power (1st ed.). New York: A Touchstone Book/Simon & Schuster. pp. 490–491. ISBN 9780671892890. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Kennedy, John Fitzgerald. "Televised Address to the Nation on Civil Rights". Historic Speeches. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Packer, George (May 14, 2012). "L.B.J.'s Biden Moment". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Ernst, Dan. "Harriet S. Shapiro, Harold M. Stephens and the DC Circuit". Legal History Blog: scholarship, news and new ideas in legal history. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Feigin, Judith S. (2012). "Harriet S. Shapiro, Esq" (PDF). Complete Oral History Package. The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. pp. 116–119. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Griswold, Erwin (February 15, 1989). "Secrets Not Worth Keeping". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Krislov, Marvin. "New Chair in Politics and Law Honors Erwin Griswold". Campus News October 8, 2014. Oberlin College. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- "The Nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States" (PDF). Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, First Session. Senate Hearing 103-482 (Serial No. J-103-21): 10–11. July 20–23, 1993. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
But I would call attention, sir, simply to remarks of Erwin N. Griswold, the former Solicitor General of the United States and dean of the Harvard Law School at the time Judge Ginsburg was there. He spoke at a special session of the Supreme Court commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of their new building, as it then was. Dean Griswold spoke of the work of attorneys who had appeared before the Court on behalf of special interest groups, as he termed it, and he said this: 'I think, for example, of the work done in the early days of the NAACP which was represented here by one of the country's great lawyers, Charles Hamilton Houston; work which was carried on later with great ability by Thurgood Marshall. And I may mention the work done by lawyers representing groups interested in the rights of women of whom Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an outstanding example.' It is in that context, Mr. Chairman, that the American Bar Association has given her its highest rating, and she has my most sincere and proud recommendation to this committee.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
- Radd, Victoria L. "Interview of Erwin N. Griswold" (PDF). The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. p. 20. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
- Blumenthal, Sidney (July 5, 1993). "A Beautiful Friendship". The New Yorker: 34–38. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
On June 12th, Moynihan relates. the White House legal counsel, Bernard Nussbaum, called him. "And he says, 'What are you saying about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?' I say, 'Hmm, well, all I have is this statement, she's a very fine attorney, she developed the theory of gender equality under the equal-protection clause.' And then Nussbaum said, 'I'm sorry , the Oval Office is buzzing, I've got to go in.' And I said, 'Hold it! Hold it! One minute! Erwin Griswold–dean of Har-vard Law School–said–on the fiftieth anniversary–the Supreme Court–building a new building–that–she–was–to–women's rights–what–Thurgood Marshall–was–to–civil rights!' " The next night, at about midnight, Clinton woke Moynihan with a call requesting him to act as Ginsburg's sponsor in the Senate. The following afternoon, the Senator sat in the front row in the Rose Garden as the President announced that Ginsburg was his nominee. Nussbaum took Moynihan aside to remind him of his Griswold reference and said "I walked into the Oval Office with that." Moynihan said later, "And I thought, Well, if I had not kept Nussbaum for twelve seconds..."
- Labaton, Stephen (June 16, 1993). "Senators See Easy Approval for Nominee" (No. 49364). New York Times. p. A22. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
With the help of the judge's husband, Martin Ginsburg, a tax professor at Georgetown Law School , Mr. Moynihan managed to track down a 1985 speech by Erwin Griswold, the former Harvard Law School dean and solicitor general, that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court building. In the speech, Mr. Griswold compared the nominee's successes on behalf of women's rights to the legal victories achieved for minorities by Thurgood Marshall.
- Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (2004). "The Changing Complexion of Harvard Law School" (PDF). Wayback Machine. Harvard Women’s Law Journal. pp. 303–308. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
Fast forward now to October 7, 1985, when Erwin N. Griswold spoke at a special session to commemorate the aftieth anniversary of the opening of the Supreme Court Building. The Dean and former Solicitor General spoke in praise of lawyers who had appeared before the Court. Near the end of his remarks, he recalled '[t]he work done in the early days of the NAACP, which was represented [in the Supreme Court] by one of the country’s great lawyers, Charles Hamilton Houston—work which was carried on later with great ability by Thurgood Marshall. And I may mention the work done by lawyers representing groups interested in the rights of women, of whom Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an out- standing example.' In the spring of 1993, when President Clinton had a Supreme Court seat to all, Senator Patrick Moynihan sent the President a copy of Dean Griswold’s October 1985 remarks. I have every assurance the Dean’s words counted heavily in the President’s nomination.
- "Mr. Griswold and Mr. Brown opposed the confirmation of Judge Thomas, saying he has a poor civil rights record" (Video Archive). Thomas Confirmation Hearing Day 6, Part 3. C-SPAN. September 17, 1991. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
- "Nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States" (PDF). Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Second Congress, First Session. Part 2 of 4 parts (S. HRG. 102-1084, PT.2): 233–249. September 17–19, 1991. Retrieved 4 January 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
- Griswold, Erwin (1992). Ould fields, new corne : the personal memoirs of a twentieth century lawyer (First ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company. ISBN 9780314929518. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
- Hevesi, Dennis (November 21, 1994). "Erwin Griswold Is Dead at 90; Served as a Solicitor General" (Page B10). New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Office of the Solicitor General.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Erwin Griswold|
- "Finding aid for Erwin N. Griswold, Papers, 1925-1994". Harvard Law School Library.
- Pentagon Papers Supreme Court case
- Ould Fields, New Corne: The Personal Memoirs of a Twentieth Century Lawyer, ISBN 0-314-92951-7
- Erwin N Griswold - The Fifth Amendment ; Speech Delivered at the Winter Meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Held in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday 5 1954 (pamphlet). New York, Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, 1954
- Erwin Griswold at Find a Grave
James M. Landis
| Dean of Harvard Law School
| Solicitor General of the United States