Archibald Cox, Jr., (May 17, 1912 – May 29, 2004) was an American lawyer who served as U.S. Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy, and later became best known as the first special prosecutor for the Watergate scandal.
After the war ended, Cox joined the faculty at Harvard, where he taught courses in torts and in administrative, constitutional, and labor law. During that time, he also became an adviser and speech-writer for John F. Kennedy, who was at that time U.S. senator from Massachusetts. In 1961, Cox joined the new Kennedy administration as solicitor general. At a time when civil rights protesters were routinely chased with dogs and clubbed, he became JFK's point man on pursuing legal remedies to injustice, often appearing before the Supreme Court. Among the cases he was involved in were Baker v. Carr, which set the standards for reapportionment; Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, which broke grounds on public accommodations for African-Americans under the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and South Carolina v. Katzenbach, which upheld the Voting Rights Act; In 1965, he returned to the law school.
The firing of Cox illustrated the need for independent counsels — prosecutors specifically appointed to investigate official misconduct. After Nixon's resignation, Cox became chairman of Common Cause, and became the founding chair of the Health Effects Institute. Cox argued Buckley v. Valeo, which reformed campaign financing, before the Supreme Court in 1976. He was made an honorary member of the Order of the Coif in 1991. Besides the Paul Douglas Ethics in Government Award, Professor Cox was also the recipient of the Thomas "Tip" O'Neill Citizenship Award.
The New York Times wrote, "a gaunt 6-footer who wore three-piece suits, Mr. Cox was often described as 'ramrod straight,' not only because of his bearing but also because of his personality."
Cox was the great-grandson of William M. Evarts, who defended President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment hearing and became Secretary of State in the Hayes administration. He was also a direct descendant of Roger Sherman, a Connecticut signer of the Declaration of Independence; Archibald Cox, Jr. 6, Frances Bruen Perkins 5, Elizabeth Hoar Evarts 4, William Maxwell Evarts 3, Mehitabel Sherman 2, Roger Sherman 1.