Ervin, Samuel James (ûrˈvĭn) [key], 1896–1985, U.S. senator (1954–75), b. Morganton, N.C. Admitted to the bar in 1919, he became a distinguished jurist, serving as a judge on a county criminal court (1935–37), the North Carolina superior court (1937–43), and the state supreme court (1948–54), before being appointed (1954) to the U.S. Senate. Elected for a full term in 1956, Ervin joined the coalition of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans who supported a large defense establishment while opposing civil rights and social welfare legislation. Becoming (1961) chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he won a reputation as a civil libertarian. Ervin received (1973) national attention as chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Presidential Campaign Practices, which held televised hearings on the Watergate affair and the financing of the 1972 presidential election.
See biography by P. R. Clancy (1974).
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