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Schmid Law Library Archives

Schmid Law Library maintains the collection of a number of University of Nebraska College of Law alumni. The Schmid Law Library Archive collection is available for research purposes only. Please contact Library Director Richard Leiter at (402) 472-5737 for access to a particular collection.

J. Lee Rankin Archive

Known for his straightforward, quiet, and friendly demeanor, James Lee Rankin (known to his friends and colleagues as Lee), loved to tend roses, play the piccolo, and was an enthusiastic amateur photographer. Rankin was the son of Herman P. and Lois Gable Rankin. He was born in Hartington, Nebraska, in the United States on July 7, 1907 and attended public schools before receiving both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Nebraska, . After graduating from law school in 1930, Rankin was admitted to the Nebraska Bar Association and began his law career with a firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1935, he became a partner and worked with the firm for over 20 years. In 1952, Rankin managed the Eisenhower for President campaign in Nebraska and in 1953, President Eisenhower selected Rankin to serve as United States Assistant Attorney General.

As assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, Rankin may best be remembered for arguing in favor of the African-American plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), advocating that the doctrine of “separate-but-equal” facilities for blacks and whites was unconstitutional. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown, Rankin argued in a presentation before the Court that the effort to desegregate schools should take place gradually in an effort to avoid any violence that might arise from the decision. Accordingly, he suggested the plan by which local school districts submitted desegregation plans to federal judges in their states. In addition, Rankin argued a great range of other important cases before the Supreme Court. He was instrumental in resolving conflicting claims among Western states to the Colorado River, and in establishing a balance of federal and state jurisdictions in offshore oil drilling.

On August 14, 1956, Rankin was appointed U.S. Solicitor General. In response to lawsuits in many states arising out of legislative reapportionment fights, he developed the Justice Department’s position that led to the principle of one person, one vote. After serving as solicitor general from August 1956 to January 1961, Rankin represented the American Civil Liberties Union in advancing the landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright, solidifying the right of an indigent person accused of a crime to have legal counsel at public expense.

Following President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, Rankin was the unanimous choice of the Warren Commission to serve as general counsel in the inquiry that concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in killing President Kennedy. He was credited with redrafting and editing the commission’s voluminous report into a work of polished prose. Subsequently, Rankin practiced law in New York City until the 1970s, working seven years as the New York City Corporation Counsel (1966-1972).

Upon retirement, Rankin and his wife of 63 years, Gertrude, moved to Weston, Connecticut, where they had a summer home. In 1993, they relocated to their home in Los Gatos, California. Mr. and Mrs. Rankin had two sons, James Jr., Roger C., and one daughter, Sara Stadler, six grandchildren, Todd, Stephanie, Russell, Andrew, Amy and Justin, and four great-grandchildren, Camden, Thomas, Hannah and Faith. Rankin died on June 28, 1996, at the age of 88, in Santa Cruz, CA.

George E. Danielson Archive

Former Rep. George Danielson Dies at 83

Saturday, September 19, 1998; Page C04 Washington Post George Danielson, 83, a California Democrat who served in the House of Representatives from 1971 until resigning in 1982 to become a judge on the California Court of Appeal, died Sept. 12 in Monterey, Calif., after a heart attack. As a judge, he was involved in the case of the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King. Mr. Danielson retired from the bench in 1992. During his years in the House, he gained his greatest national attention as a member of the Judiciary Committee that held the impeachment hearings of President Richard M. Nixon. Critics generally hailed Mr. Danielson, a vigorous Nixon critic, as an aggressive, intelligent and effective member of the committee. In addition to the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Danielson also had served on the International Relations and Veterans Affairs committees. Over the years, he had successfully sponsored bills dealing with establishing special prosecutors and calling for financial disclosure in all three branches of government and for disclosure by members of Congress of money and favors received from lobbyists. Mr. Danielson, a Nebraska native, served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He was a 1937 graduate of the University of Nebraska and a 1939 graduate of its law school. He served as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1939 to 1944. He practiced law in Nebraska, and after the war, settled in the Los Angeles area, where he also practiced law. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles from 1949 to 1951. He served in the California state Assembly from 1963 to 1967, and then in the state Senate until entering Congress. He was elected from California’s 30th District, which included the suburban San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles.

The Schmid Law Library is the custodian of the personal and professional papers of George E Danielson. The papers are presently being processed for access to researchers.