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Wade McCree
Solicitor General of the United States

In office
March 28, 1977 – January 20, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Daniel Friedman (Acting)
Succeeded by Rex E. Lee
Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

In office
September 7, 1966 – March 28, 1977
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Damon Keith
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

In office
September 29, 1961 – September 7, 1966
Appointed by John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Lawrence Gubow
Personal details
Born Wade Hampton McCree Jr.
(1920-07-03)July 3, 1920
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Died August 30, 1987(1987-08-30) (aged 67)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dores McCree

Wade Hampton McCree Jr. (July 3, 1920 – August 30, 1987) was an American attorney, judge, public official and law professor. He was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the second African-American Solicitor General in the history of the United States. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School after leaving government service in 1981, and taught there until the time of his death.


McCree was born in Des Moines, Iowa to Wade Hampton McCree, Sr., a graduate of Fisk University who had worked his way through college as a butler and who became the first African-American pharmacist and pharmacy owner in Iowa. McCree senior was later employed as first African-American narcotics inspector for the Food and Drug Administration.[1][2] McCree grew up mainly in Boston, and attended the prestigious Boston Latin School.[1] Like his father, McCree worked his way through Fisk University.[2] He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society and graduated summa cum laude in 1941. After serving a four-year stint as a Captain in the United States Army during World War II, McCree entered Harvard Law School and graduated 12th in his class in 1948.[2]

McCree and his wife, Dores, a graduate of Simmons College, then moved to her hometown of Detroit, Michigan where they raised three children. McCree practiced law at the legendary black law firm of Bledsoe & Taylor from 1948 to 1952. He began his long career in public service in 1953 when was appointed to the Workman's Compensation Commission by Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams. Two years later McCree became the first African-American to be appointed to the Circuit Court for Wayne County, Michigan, and served on that court from 1954 to 1961.[2]

President John F. Kennedy nominated McCree to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on September 18, 1961, another first for an African-American.[2] His nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate 11 days later, and he received his commission on September 29, 1961. On August 16, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated McCree to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was confirmed by the Senate on September 7, 1966 and received his commission the same day.[citation needed]

While sitting on the federal bench, McCree was known to have expressed his views on race and justice. When a lawyer argued that McCree could not impartially decide a case involving a black and a white litigant McCree replied: "the ultimate of arrogance is achieved when a white person thinks another white person can make a judgment without being influenced by race, and a black person cannot."[1]

When his eldest daughter was refused admission to an all-girls school in Detroit because she was black, McCree founded the interracial Friends School in 1965. He was also a founder of the statewide Higher Education Opportunity Committee, a program which identifies promising middle school students and provides them with college scholarships.[2]

McCree served on the Sixth Circuit until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter appointed him United States Solicitor General. As Solicitor General, McCree served as the head appellate lawyer for the U.S. government and represented the administration in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

He personally argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court, including the Richard Nixon presidential tapes case and the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke affirmative action case.[2] In Bakke, McCree argued that race could be one factor in deciding whether an applicant was admitted to medical school. He said at the time that he was "in favor of special admissions programs, but people who can outgrow them should not become dependent on them."[1] Called the "10th Justice" by virtue of his office, McCree served as Solicitor General for four years.[3]

McCree resigned his commission as Solicitor General after the end of the Supreme Court's Term in June 1981, after Republican President Ronald Reagan took office. Chief Justice Burger had privately signaled his preference that McCree not be replaced until the end of the Term.[4] McCree then became the Lewis M. Simes Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, where he taught until his death. During these years he also consulted on various cases and served as Special Master for U.S. Supreme Court cases of original jurisdiction.[5]


McCree died at age 67 of bone cancer and a heart ailment at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.[1] President Carter said at his memorial service that McCree was "a true American hero". McCree is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.[citation needed]


McCree's daughter, Kathleen McCree Lewis, was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1999. However, the U.S. Senate failed to act on Lewis' nomination.[6]



  • Wade Hampton McCree Jr. at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  • PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Office of the Solicitor General.
Legal offices
New title Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Succeeded by
Lawrence Gubow
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
Damon Keith
Preceded by
Daniel Friedman
Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by
Rex E. Lee

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