Frank Murphy was a Michigan man unafraid to speak truth to power. Born in 1890, he grew up in a small town on the shores of Lake Huron and rose to become Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, and finally a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. One of the most important politicians in Michigan’s history, Murphy was known for his passionate defense of the common man, earning him the pun “tempering justice with Murphy.”
Murphy is best remembered for his immense legal contributions supporting individual liberty and fighting discrimination, particularly discrimination against the most vulnerable. Despite being a loyal ally of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when FDR ordered the removal of Japanese Americans during World War II, Supreme Court Justice Murphy condemned the policy as “racist” in a scathing dissent to the Korematsu v. United States decision—the first use of the word in a Supreme Court opinion. Every American, whether arriving by first class or in chains in the galley of a slave ship, fell under Murphy’s definition of those entitled to the full benefits of the American dream.
Justice and Faith explores Murphy’s life and times by incorporating troves of archive materials not available to previous biographers, including local newspaper records from across the country. Frank Murphy is proof that even in dark times, the United States has extraordinary resilience and an ability to produce leaders of morality and courage.
Greg Zipes is an attorney and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Studies at New York University.