Joseph Nye Welch

Also found in: Legal.

Welch, Joseph Nye

(1890–1960) lawyer; born in Primghar, Iowa. A graduate of Grinnell College (1914) and Harvard Law School (1917), he went into private practice in Boston and established a reputation as an excellent trial lawyer. In 1954, as special counsel for the army, he conducted a televised duel with Senator Joseph McCarthy in congressional hearings called to consider McCarthy's allegations that evidence of an army communications spy ring had been covered up. Welch gained a clear advantage in the exchanges through his old-fashioned moral indignation as well as his legal expertise, and the Senate voted a few months later to censure McCarthy. Welch returned to private practice, emerging briefly to narrate a television series on constitutional history and to play the trial judge in the 1959 movie Anatomy of a Murder.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.