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Archibald Cox

Died when: 92 years 12 days
Star Sign: Taurus

 

Archibald Cox Archibald "Archie" Cox Jr. (May 17, 1912 – May 29, 2004) was an American lawyer and law professor who served as U.S. Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy and as a special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal. During his career, he was a pioneering expert on labor law and was also an authority on constitutional law. The Journal of Legal Studies has identified Cox as one of the most cited legal scholars of the 20th century. Cox was Senator John F. Kennedy's labor advisor and in 1961, President Kennedy appointed him solicitor general, an office he held for four and a half years. Cox became famous when, under mounting pressure and charges of corruption against persons closely associated with Richard Nixon, Attorney General nominee Elliot Richardson appointed him as Special Prosecutor to oversee the federal criminal investigation into the Watergate burglary and other related crimes that became popularly known as the Watergate scandal. He had a dramatic confrontation with Nixon when he subpoenaed the tapes the president had secretly recorded of his Oval Office conversations. When Cox refused a direct order from the White House to seek no further tapes or presidential materials, Nixon fired him in an incident that became known as the Saturday Night Massacre. Cox's firing produced a public relations disaster for Nixon and set in motion impeachment proceedings which ended with Nixon stepping down from the presidency. Cox returned to teaching, lecturing, and writing for the rest of his life, giving his opinions on the role of the Supreme Court in the development of the law and the role of the lawyer in society. Although he was recommended to President Jimmy Carter for a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Cox's nomination fell victim to the dispute between the president and Senator Ted Kennedy. He was appointed to head several public-service, watchdog and good-government organizations, including serving for 12 years as head of Common Cause. Cox was elected to the Common Cause National Governing Board in 1976 and 1997. In addition, he argued two important Supreme Court cases, winning both: one concerning the constitutionality of federal campaign finance restrictions (Buckley v. Valeo) and the other the leading early case testing affirmative action (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke).
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