A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. became a Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on November 30, 1995. A Democrat, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve a six-year term.

Judge Higginbotham is Public Service Professor of Jurisprudence at Harvard University, teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also Of Counsel to the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in its New York and Washington offices.

From 1977 until he retired in 1993, Higginbotham served as Circuit Judge and Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was appointed a Federal district court judge in 1964 and a court of appeals judge in 1977. Higginbotham has taught as an adjunct professor at the law schools of Harvard University, the University of Michigan, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and Yale University.

Judge Higginbotham served as Vice Chairman of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence under President Johnson. He was appointed to a variety of judicial conference committees and other related responsibilities by former Supreme Court Chief Justices Warren and Burger and by Chief Justice Rehnquist. In 1962, President Kennedy appointed Higginbotham a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. He has been a Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, an Assistant District Attorney and a Special Deputy Attorney General in Pennsylvania.

Judge Higginbotham was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civilian honor in September 1995. He has received more than 60 honorary degrees and numerous local, regional and national honors. His book In the Matter of Color: Race and the American Legal Process has received several national and international awards. He is the author of more than 40 published articles. Judge Higginbotham is writing two additional books in his Race and the American Legal Process series, a book on Race and the American and South African Legal Process, and an autobiography.

Judge Higginbotham was born in Trenton, New Jersey on February 25, 1928. He earned a bachelor's degree from Antioch College in 1949, and the juris doctor degree from Yale University Law School in 1952. He made his home in Massachusetts and is survived by his wife, Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and his four adult children: Stephen Lee, Karen Lee, Kenneth Lee and Nia B.