Post Date: May 30, 2004

Professor Emeritus Archibald Cox, the famed Watergate special prosecutor and former solicitor general, died yesterday in his home in Brooksville, Maine. He was 92.

Cox graduated from Harvard College in 1934 and from Harvard Law School in 1937. He served as a law clerk for Judge Learned Hand before joining the Harvard Law faculty in 1945 as a visiting lecturer. The following year he became a tenured professor at the age of 34. An expert in torts, administrative law and constitutional law, Cox frequently took breaks from teaching to perform a range a of public service legal work. In 1980, he became chairman of Common Cause, the Washington-based advocacy group.

“Archibald Cox was a man of unwavering principle and one of the great law professors of his time,” said Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. “He had a shaping influence on constitutional law and labor law, and he served the public interest with devotion as solicitor general of the United States. His reputation for integrity and fairness led to his playing a pivotal role in one of the most turbulent episodes in the nation’s political history. His many colleagues, students, friends, and admirers in the Harvard community join in mourning his loss and remembering his extraordinary life.”

Although Cox was involved in a number of landmark Supreme Court cases — many as solicitor general — he is best known for the five months he served as the Watergate special prosecutor. In this position, Cox earned a national reputation for his principled advocacy of the public interest.

In October 2003, Cox was on hand at a ceremony in Langdell Hall to unveil his portrait, which now hangs in a prominent place in Pound Hall. “It gives me great pleasure to have my portrait join the great company that adorn the walls of the Harvard Law School,” said Cox.

During the portrait unveiling ceremony, Dean Elena Kagan praised Cox for his comittment to teaching and public service. “There is no better example for today’s students, and for young lawyers everywhere, than the life and work of Archibald Cox.” she said.

Cox was born on May 17, 1912, in Plainfield, N.J. He is survived by his wife Phyllis Ames; two daughters, Phyllis, of Denver, and Sarah, of Brooksville, Maine; a son, Archibald Jr., of Markleville, Ind.; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Related link: New York Times obituary