Supreme Court

Former justices

Thomas E. Fairchild (1912-2007)

Thomas E. Fairchild

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1957-1966)

Thomas E. Fairchild was born on Christmas 1912 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After study at Deep Springs College in California, Princeton University and Cornell University, he received his A.B. from Cornell University in 1934 and his L.L.B. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1938.

Fairchild practiced law in Portage from 1938 to 1942 with Daniel H. Grady, a longtime member of the Board of Regents. He served from 1942 to 1945 as an attorney with the U.S. Office of Price Administration, dealing with consumer rationing. The next three years, he practiced law in Milwaukee.

In 1948, he joined others working to revitalize the state Democratic Party, which had seldom won offices since the 1890s, and ran in 1948, 1950 and 1952. He was elected attorney general in 1948. His 1950 bid for the office of U.S. Senator against incumbent Alexander Wiley was hampered by his unpopular decision as attorney general to outlaw "Stop the Music," a radio show awarding big prizes.

President Harry S. Truman appointed Fairchild U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin in 1951. In 1952, he resigned and ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Fairchild returned to private law practice in Milwaukee. In 1956, he and others of the Milwaukee Bar Association appeared as counsel for alleged communists subpoenaed before the House of Unamerican Activities Committee.

Fairchild was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in April 1956 and served until 1966, when appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He was chief judge from 1975 to 1981 and a senior judge since then.

Thomas and Eleanor Fairchild had four children and eight grandchildren. He died on February 12, 2007.

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