May 13, 2019: Judge Damon J. Keith Day

WHEREAS, the State of Michigan is pleased to recognize Judge Damon J. Keith upon his death on April 28, 2019, at the age of 96 and honor the life and service of one of the most prominent African American judges on the federal bench and a champion of civil rights; and,


WHEREAS, Judge Keith was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and was elevated to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977; and,


WHEREAS, he took senior status in 1995, but continued to hear cases, presiding over courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, and never retired until his death; and,


WHEREAS, in 1970, Judge Keith ordered busing to desegregate public schools in Pontiac Michigan and upheld the affirmative action policy in the Detroit Police Department; and,


WHEREAS, in 1971, he ruled that President Richard Nixon and his Department of Justice violated the Fourth Amendment by wiretapping without court orders, which was affirmed by the U.S Supreme Court; and,


WHEREAS, in 2016, he dissented when the 6th Circuit upheld an Ohio law restricting early and absentee voting, in which he included photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other African Americans who were killed in the struggles for civil rights; and,


WHEREAS, Judge Keith received two American Bar Association awards, the Spirit of Excellence Award in 2001 and the Thurgood Marshall Award in 1997, for his tireless efforts in attacking racial segregation in education, housing, and employment, and for his use of the law as a means for social change; and,


WHEREAS, this Judge Damon Keith will be remembered by Detroit and across our state and nation for his steadfast dedication to pursuing justice and equality, and for making influential decisions on school segregation, voting rights, and government surveillance, which reflect the highest ideals of the equitable, honorable nation we strive to be;  


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim May 13, 2019, as a day to honor the life of Judge Damon J. Keith in Michigan and encourage all citizens to remember and follow the values of compassion, justice, and courage he has shown.