The James E. Doyle American Inn of Court
Biography of James E. Doyle, Sr. By: Melita Schuessler, J.D. Candidate 2012, UW Law
James E. Doyle, Sr., served as U.S. District Judge for the Western
District of Wisconsin. After his appointment by President Lyndon B.
Johnson in 1965, Judge Doyle occupied the bench for 22 years,
including the years he served as a senior judge after his
retirement in 1980.
Born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on July 6, 1915, Doyle graduated from
the University of Wisconsin (1937) and Columbia Law School (1940).
Early in his legal career, he worked as an attorney in the criminal
division at the U.S. Department of Justice and clerked for United
States Supreme Court Justice James F. Byrnes. After serving in the
U.S. Navy during World War II as a naval reserve lieutenant, he
returned to Madison where he was Assistant U.S. Attorney for the
Western District (1946-1948) before entering private practice at
LaFollette, Sinykin, Doyle and Anderson (1948-1965).
During the post-war period, Doyle and his wife, Ruth Bachhuber
Doyle, rose to statewide prominence as political leaders. They were
influential members of a group credited with revitalizing and
modernizing the Democratic Party in Wisconsin at a time when the
Republican Party held power. Doyle served as statewide Democratic
Party chairperson from 1951 to 1953.
During his tenure as a federal judge, Doyle earned the admiration
of his colleagues in the legal profession for his clarity of his
written opinions, his unwavering impartiality, and the soft-spoken
eloquence and gentle humor he displayed on the bench. Throughout
his judicial career, he adhered to the principle that the courts
must serve the American people. He remained a staunch champion of
individuals' rights to free speech and due process, even in times
of social upheaval and controversy.
Judge Doyle died in Madison on April 1, 1987, leaving his wife of
almost 50 years and four children, including former Wisconsin
Governor Jim Doyle.
You can also read the Federal Judiciary
Center biography of Judge Doyle.