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Robert P. Griffin

Robert Paul Griffin (November 6, 1923 – April 16, 2015) was an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, he represented Michigan in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate and was a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He co-sponsored the Landrum-Griffin Act, which regulates the internal affairs of labor unions. As a deputy minority leader in the Senate, he called on President Richard Nixon to resign during the Watergate scandal.

Robert P. Griffin
Robert Paul Griffin.jpg
Senate Minority Whip
In office
September 7, 1969 – January 3, 1977
LeaderHugh Scott
Preceded byHugh Scott
Succeeded byTed Stevens
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
May 11, 1966 – January 3, 1979
Preceded byPatrick McNamara
Succeeded byCarl Levin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1957 – May 10, 1966
Preceded byRuth Thompson
Succeeded byGuy Vander Jagt
Personal details
Robert Paul Griffin

(1923-11-06)November 6, 1923
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedApril 16, 2015(2015-04-16) (aged 91)
Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationCentral Michigan University (BA)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1943–1946
Unit71st Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early lifeEdit

Griffin was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended public schools in Garden City and Dearborn. During the Second World War, he enlisted in the 71st Infantry Division in 1943 and spent fourteen months in Europe. After the war, he graduated from Central Michigan College (now Central Michigan University) at Mount Pleasant in 1947. He received a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1950. He commenced the practice of law in Traverse City.


Griffin was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 9th congressional district in 1956, unseating incumbent Ruth Thompson in the Republican primary. Griffin served in the House during the Eighty-fifth United States Congress as well as the four succeeding Congresses, a period spanning January 3, 1957 until May 10, 1966. After the revelations of the McClellan Committee, which investigated corruption and organized crime influence in labor unions, he and Rep. Phil Landrum sponsored the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. He later supported Gerald Ford as the Republican Conference Chairman and later, the House Minority Leader.[1]

He resigned May 10, 1966 to take a seat in the United States Senate. Following the death of Sen. Patrick V. McNamara, Governor George Romney appointed him for the remainder of McNamara's term. In the 1966 election, he won election to a full term, defeating former Governor Soapy Williams by a 56% to 44% margin.[1] He defeated Attorney General Frank J. Kelley in the 1972 election for a second term.

In 1968, Griffin led a successful filibuster against the nomination of Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas to be elevated to the position of Chief Justice, charging President (and former Senate Majority Leader) Lyndon B. Johnson with cronyism, noting the close relationship between the two. Fortas resigned his Associate Justice seat in May 1969 when it was discovered Fortas had been paid a $20,000 a year retainer by Louis Wolfson, a close friend and former client, since 1966.

He became the Republican Whip Senate in 1969 and served until 1977.

In 1974, he wrote to President Richard Nixon to inform him that if the White House did not release tapes that the Watergate Committee subpoenaed, the President would face impeachment and trial in the Senate. He also told the President that he considered the failure to comply with the subpoena as an impeachable offense. Up to that point, Griffin had been a supporter of the President.[1]

Griffin was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1978, narrowly defeated by former Detroit City Council president Carl Levin. He initially announced in April 1977 that he would not run for re-election in 1978, saying that he was tired and that Washington needed new blood. He went on to miss a third of the votes in 1977. He changed his mind later in the campaign and Levin used his own words and his attendance record against him during the campaign.[1][2]

Later, Griffin served as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1987 to 1994. His son, Richard Allen Griffin, was a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1989 to 2005, when he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

During the elder Griffin's first Senate campaign in 1966, a suburban Detroit rock band, Doug Brown and the Omens, released a promotional flexidisc in support of Griffin's candidacy. The song, "Give Bob The Ball" (which extolled Griffin's "youth and experience") has been included on the garage rock compilation album Friday At The Hideout.

Personal lifeEdit

A resident of Traverse City, Griffin died on April 16, 2015, aged 91.[3][1]


  • Griffin, Robert P. "The Landrum-Griffin Act: Twelve Years of Experience in Protecting Employee Rights." Georgia Law Review 5 (summer 1971): 622–42
  • Griffin, Robert P. "Rules and Procedure of the Standing Committees." In We Propose: A Modern Congress, edited by Mary McInnis, pp. 37–53. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Robert P. Griffin Dies at 91; Michigan Senator Urged Nixon to Quit". New York Times. April 17, 2015.
  2. ^ "Rightward Swing Belied by Michigan Election Outlook". Washington Post. October 30, 1978.
  3. ^ Shepardson, David (April 17, 2015). "Former Michigan U.S. Sen. Griffin dies at 91". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 17, 2015.

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