George Clifton Edwards, Jr.

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George Clifton Edwards, Jr.
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
January 15, 1985 – April 8, 1995
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
December 19, 1963 – January 15, 1985
Nominated by John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Thomas Francis McAllister
Succeeded by James L. Ryan
Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
In office
Personal details
Born (1914-08-06)August 6, 1914
Dallas, Texas
Died April 8, 1995(1995-04-08) (aged 80)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
Harvard University
Detroit College of Law
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Battles/wars World War II

George Clifton Edwards, Jr. (August 6, 1914 – April 8, 1995) was an American justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1956 until 1962 and judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1963 to 1995.

Early education and career[edit]

Born in Dallas, Texas, Edwards received a B.A. from Southern Methodist University in 1933 and an M.A. from Harvard University in 1934. Edwards moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1936 and became a United Automobile Workers union organizer. In 1939, Edwards was appointed director-secretary of the Detroit Housing Commission by Mayor Edward Jeffries. He was elected to the Detroit Common Council in 1941 at the age of 25. He was in the United States Army during World War II, from 1943 to 1946, primarily stationed in the Philippines. He received a Certificate of Completion from Detroit College of Law in 1944, and a J.D. from the same institution in 1949. Upon return from army duty, Edwards began his law practice and also returned to the common council and was elected president of the council that year. In 1949, Edwards ran for Mayor of Detroit but lost to Albert Cobo in a racially charged election in which Edwards stood up for equal rights for blacks and the protection of individual civil rights. Edwards continued serving as President of the Detroit Common Council from 1946 to 1950, and was also Chairman of the Detroit Election Commission from 1946 to 1950.

Probate judge[edit]

In 1951, Gov. G. Mennen Williams appointed Edwards as probate judge of the Wayne County Juvenile Court. In 1954, he was elected to the Wayne County Circuit Court. In 1956, he was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court to fill a vacancy, and was subsequently elected to this court for two more terms, serving until 1961. Edwards resigned from the Michigan Supreme Court in 1962 when he was appointed Detroit Police Commissioner by Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, in hopes that he could help ease the racial troubles in the city.

Court of appeals[edit]

On September 9, 1963, Edwards was nominated by President John F. Kennedy to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated by Thomas Francis McAllister. His confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate commenced the day before President Kennedy was assassinated. Edwards was renominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was confirmed on December 16, 1963, over the objections of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. Edwards received his commission on December 19, 1963. He served as Chief Judge from January 16, 1979 to September 30, 1983, assuming senior status on January 15, 1985. Edwards served in that capacity until his death, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Writing credits[edit]

Edwards wrote Pioneer at Law: A Legacy in Pursuit of Justice, a biography of his father, George C. Edwards, a lawyer and activist on behalf of labor unions, the poor, and African Americans, in Dallas, Texas, during the first half of the 20th century, and an autobiographical account of his own early life; it was published in 1974.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas Francis McAllister
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
James L. Ryan