|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 015 Griffin Bell|
|Creator||Bell, Griffin Boyette, 1918-|
|Dates||2007 February 22|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||Griffin Bell was born Americus, Georgia on October 31, 1918 and received his law degree at the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. In this interview, Bell discusses his early years growing up in Americus, his law career, his role as chief of staff under Governor Ernest Vandiver, and his service as Attorney General under President Jimmy Carter. He addresses the legal and judicial aspects of civil rights--particularly school integration--and talks about his work challenging white collar crime and corruption. Bell also discusses his relationship with President Jimmy Carter during his tenure as Attorney General.|
Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 015, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
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Griffin Boyette Bell was born in Americus, Georgia, on October 31, 1918. After attending Georgia Southwestern College for a time, Bell left to work in his father's tire store. He was drafted in 1942, serving in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps and the Transportation Corps at Fort Lee, Virginia. Upon his discharge in 1946, he enrolled in the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, and became city attorney of Warner Robins, Georgia, before graduating or passing the Georgia bar exam. Following his graduation he worked in Savannah and Rome before joining the law firm that would become King & Spalding in Atlanta in 1953. His interest in politics led to his appointment as chief of staff for Governor Ernest Vandiver and his subsequent involvement with the Sibley Commission, a group organized to oversee the desegregation of Georgia's public schools. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Bell to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and he spent fourteen years on the bench. He returned to King & Spalding, but was nominated U.S. attorney general by President Jimmy Carter in 1976. In his tenure in that office he did much to restore public confidence in the U.S. Justice Department, which had been damaged during the Watergate era. He was central in fashioning federal policy in affirmative action and environmental protection, and led the effort to pass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. He resigned as attorney general in 1979, and Carter appointed him as special ambassador to the Helsinki Convention. From 1985 to 1987, he was a member of the U.S. Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on South Africa. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed him as vice chairman of the Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform. He returned to Atlanta to practice law, specializing in corporate internal investigations. He led investigations of E. F. Hutton in 1985 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. In 2004, he was appointed chief judge of the United States Court of Military Commission Review, retiring in 2007. On January 5, 2009, Bell passed away due to complications from pancreatic cancer and long-term kidney disease.
Bell discusses his early years growing up in Americus, Georgia, his law career, his role as chief of staff under Governor Ernest Vandiver, and his service as Attorney General under President Jimmy Carter. He addresses the legal and judicial aspects of civil rights--particularly school integration--and talks about his work challenging white collar crime and corruption. Bell also discusses his relationship with President Jimmy Carter during his tenure as Attorney General.