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Justice Thomas Matthew Kavanagh 1909 - 1975



Justice Thomas M. Kavanagh

Thomas was born on August 4th 1909 near Carson City, Michigan USA. He graduated from the  University of Detroit. In 1930 Thomas married Agnes Miller and they had four daughters together.

Thomas practiced in Detroit for three years and then returned to Carson City where he also served as both City Attorney and City Clerk. He was elected Attorney General in 1954 and 1956. As a member of the State Administrative Board as well as being Attorney General he was a close advisor to the Governor.

Thomas was elected to the Michigan Supreme court in 1958 and was reelected in 1966. He had the honour of being elected Chief Justice three times by his peers serving from 1964 to 1966 and from 1971 to 1975. During his terms Thomas strove to maintain the independence of the judiciary and sought to make the Michigan Supreme court the finest in the country.

In 1969, the Court had two Thomas Kavanaghs: Thomas Matthew and Thomas Giles, though they were not related. Nicknames were given to distinguish the two Justices. Thomas Matthew was named "Thomas The Mighty" while Thomas Giles was known as "Thomas The Good" 

In private life Thomas' faith was strong and renowned, and he loved and supported his church. He also had a love of sports and played on the office bowling team even while serving on the Supreme Court.

Source : Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society


View a transcript (20K) of the presentation of the portrait of Justice Thomas M. Kavanagh by his family to the Michigan Supreme Court on June 17th, 1980 -  Requires Adobe Acrobat reader.