Louis Stokes

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Person.png Louis Stokes   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, politician)
Louis Stokes 95th Congress 1977.jpg
Cleveland, Ohio
Died2015-08-18 (Age 90)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Alma materCleveland State University
SpouseJay Stokes
Member ofHSCA, Squire Patton Boggs

Louis Stokes was an American attorney, civil rights pioneer and politician[1]. He served 15 terms in the United States House of Representatives[2] He was one of the Cold War-era chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, headed the Congressional Black Caucus, and led the 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Early life

Stokes was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Louise (née Stone) and Charles Stokes.[3] He and his brother, politician Carl B. Stokes, lived in one of the first federally funded housing projects, the Outhwaite Homes. Stokes attended Central High School and later served in the U.S. Army from 1943-46. After attending Western Reserve University and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law on the G.I. Bill, Stokes began practicing law in Cleveland in 1953. He argued the "stop and frisk" case of Terry v. Ohio before the United States Supreme Court in 1968. Later in 1968, he was elected to the House, representing the 21st District of Ohio on Cleveland's East Side. He shifted to the newly created 11th District, covering much of the same area following a 1992 redistricting. Stokes served 30 years in total, retiring in 1999.

House Select Committee on Assassinations

Stokes' tenure in the House of Representatives included service on the House Appropriations Committee, where he was influential in bringing revenue to Cleveland.

As a result of the Church Committee's report Congress established the House Select Committee on Assassinations in September 1976. The resolution authorized a 12-member select committee to conduct an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Louis Stokes was named chairman of the committee.

He was also on the House committee that investigated the Iran-Contra Affair. As Chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Stokes oversaw the committee's investigation of a corruption scandal known as ABSCAM in 1979–80, which eventually led to convictions of one senator and six House members. Recalling Stokes, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said: "We were in the midst of a huge ... corruption scandal, and public service was taking a public beating. But Lou Stokes was there as a shining beacon of integrity, of excellence and most important of all for us, of justice."[4]

In 1971, he was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In 1992, Stokes ran for president as an Ohio favorite son, winning the delegates from his home district in Ohio, and then, in a minor Democratic convention drama, refused to release the delegate's votes until the Clinton campaign formally asked for them.

Following his time in Congress, Stokes became a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He actively served in this role until the time of his death.

Stokes was a Prince Hall Freemason,[5] and a member of the Cleveland Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Later life and death

Stokes retired in 2012 as Senior Counsel in the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, with offices in Cleveland and Washington.[6]

On July 20, 2015, it was reported that Stokes had both brain cancer and lung cancer.[7] He died on August 18, 2015 at his home in Cleveland from the diseases at the age of 90.[8]

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