Frank Murphy – Supreme Court Judge from Michigan’s Thumb

Supreme Court Judge from Michigan’s Thumb

Frank Murphy

Birthplace of Frank Murphy – Harbor Beach

Frank Murphy, the thirty-fifth governor of Michigan, was born in Harbor Beach, Michigan on April 13, 1890. His education was attained at the University of Michigan, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1912, and his law degree in 1914. He later attended graduate classes at Trinity College in Dublin and at Lincoln’s Inn in London. 


A Career of Service

Frank Murphy saw action in both World Wars, serving as a first lieutenant and later rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his military service, he secured an appointment as first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, a position he held from 1919 to 1920. He also served as judge of the Recorder’s Court from 1923 to 1930, was mayor of Detroit from 1930 to 1933, served as governor-general of the Philippine Islands from 1933 to 1934, and was the U.S. First High Commissioner to the Philippines from 1935 to 1936. 

Frank Murphy – Politician

Murphy next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 3, 1936. During his tenure, an unemployment compensation system was instituted; a sit-down strike in Flint and an industrial plant strike were both dealt with, and mental health programs were improved. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Murphy left office on January 1, 1939. 


Frank Murphy continued to stay politically active, serving as the U.S. attorney general, a position he held from 1939 to 1940. He also served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1940 to 1949.  He was the only dissent opinion of the Supreme Courts decision Korematsu v. the United States in 1944 me Court case concerning the constitutionality which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. Governor Frank Murphy passed away on July 19, 1949, and was buried in Our Lady of Lake Huron Cemetery in Harbor Beach, Michigan.

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