Wade H. McCree

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Wade Hampton McCree, Jr. (July 3, 1920August 30, 1987) was the first African-American judge appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and the second African-American solicitor general in the history of the United States.

McCree was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude from Fisk University in 1941. After a four-year stint in the Army during World War II, he graduated 12th in his class from Harvard Law School in 1948.

McCree and his wife, Dores moved to her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. There, McCree entered into private practice at the legendary black law firm of Bledsoe & Taylor. In 1953 he was appointed to the Workman's Compensation Commission by Governor G. Mennen Williams. Two years later he became the first African-American to be named a judge of the Circuit Court for Wayne County, Michigan.

President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1961, another first for an African-American. In 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He served there until 1977, when he left to become solicitor general of the United States, the second African-American to hold that office – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was the first. President Jimmy Carter, who nominated McCree to the post, said at his memorial service that McCree was "a true American hero".

Called the "10th Justice", McCree served as solicitor general for four years. He stepped down in 1981 to become the Lewis M. Simes Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, a position he held until his death. As solicitor general, McCree personally argued 25 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Richard Nixon presidential tapes case and the Bakke "reverse discrimination" case.

In 1981 he accepted appointment as Lewis M. Simes Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, where he taught until his death on 30 August, 1987. During these years he also consulted on various cases and served as Special Master for the U.S. Supreme Court in cases in which it exercised original jurisdiction.


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