William G. East

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"William East" redirects here. For other uses, see William East (disambiguation).
William G. East
Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
In office
June 8, 1955 – April 27, 1985
Nominated by Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by James Alger Fee
Succeeded by Robert C. Belloni
Personal details
Born April 25, 1908
Lecompton, Kansas
Died April 27, 1985(1985-04-27) (aged 77)
Eugene, Oregon
Spouse(s) Louise Wilhelm

William G. East (April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1985) was an American jurist in the state of Oregon. He served as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland, Oregon, and as a state circuit judge. A native of Kansas, he served in the United States Army Reserve during World War II.

Early life[edit]

William East was born in Lecompton, Kansas on April 25, 1908.[1] He attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, where he earned a LL.B. degree in 1931.[1] The following year he earned a juris doctorate from the university’s law school.[1]

Legal career[edit]

After graduation from law school, East entered private legal practice in Eugene, remaining until 1942 when World War II interrupted his practice.[1] From 1942 to 1946 he served in the United States Army Reserve as a captain.[1] After leaving the Army he returned to private practice in Eugene in 1946.[1] That year he also began a two-year term as Eugene's city attorney.[1]

In 1949, East began serving as judge on the Oregon Circuit Court for the Second Judicial District, remaining until 1955.[1] On May 2, 1955, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated him to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to replace judge James A. Fee who had been elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the prior year.[1] East was confirmed as a federal district judge by the United States Senate on June 7, 1955, and received his federal commission the following day.[1] As judge, in 1960 he issued an injunction against a local water district in a racially charged case where the African-American residents of a Parkrose, Portland, Oregon, were discriminated against by the local water district.[2]

From 1964 to 1965 future Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers was a law clerk for East.[3] In 1964, East made national headlines for ordering U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to show why an Oregon lawyer should not be paid for defending a criminal defendant he had been ordered to defend by the federal court.[4] In what Time magazine said was “may be the neatest constitutional argument of the year,” East justified the expenditure under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[4]

Later life and family[edit]

East married Louise Wilhelm, and they would have one daughter named Sarah Elizabeth. On April 10, 1967, he became a senior judge for Oregon’s only federal court.[1] After assuming senior status, he often sat as a federal appeals court judge for the Ninth Circuit on three judge panels.[5][6][7][8][9]

William G. East died on April 27, 1985 at the age of 77 in Eugene, Oregon, of congestive heart failure.[1] He was buried on May 2, 1985 at Willamette National Cemetery near Portland, Oregon. Louise died December 17, 2001 and was buried at the cemetery as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Judges of the United States: William G East. Federal Judicial Center. Accessed January 27, 2008.
  2. ^ Binus, Joshua. The Oregon History Project: Wiley Family Housing Struggle. Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  3. ^ Oregon Blue Book: Attorney General Hardy Myers. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Getting the Feds to Pay. Time, July 10, 1964. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Church of Scientology of California v. U.S. Postal Service, 593 F.2d 902 (C.A.9) 1979.
  6. ^ Propstra v. U.S., 680 F.2d 1248 (C.A.9) 1982.
  7. ^ AMF, Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats, 599 F.2d 341 (C.A.9) 1979.
  8. ^ U.S. v. Polk, 550 F.2d 566 (C.A.9) 1977.
  9. ^ Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Sony Corp. of America, 659 F.2d 963 (C.A.9) 1981.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James Alger Fee
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Succeeded by
Robert C. Belloni