Richard Taylor Rives (January 15, 1895–October 27, 1982) was an American lawyer and judge. A native of Alabama, he was the sole Democrat among the "Fifth Circuit Four," four judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the 1950s and 1960s that issued a series of decisions crucial in advancing the civil rights of African-Americans. At that time, the Fifth Circuit included not only Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas (its current jurisdiction), but also Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (which were subsequently split off into the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit), and the Panama Canal Zone.
Rives read law in 1914. He was in private practice in Montgomery, Alabama from 1914 to 1916 and served in the U.S. Army from 1916 to 1919, during World War I. Rives returned to private practice in Montgomery in 1919.
President Harry S. Truman nominated Rives to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on April 12, 1951, to the seat vacated by Leon Clarence McCord. Confirmed by the Senate on May 1, 1951, he received commission three days later. He served as chief judge from 1959 to 1960 and assumed senior status on February 15, 1966.
Rives was reassigned to the Eleventh Circuit on October 1, 1981, when that court was created. He remained on the court until his death in Montgomery in 1982.
Judge Rives is the grandfather of U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade of the Southern District of Alabama. Following in her grandfather's footsteps of advancing civil rights, on January 23, 2015, Judge Granade struck down Alabama's prohibition on same-sex marriage, a decision eventually affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.
- Jack Bass, "The 'Fifth Circuit Four'", The Nation, May 3, 2004, p. 30-32.
- Richard Rives at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Leon Clarence McCord
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
John Cooper Godbold
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