Harry S. Truman was known for his accountability — immortalized by a sign on his desk at the White House that read: The Buck Stops Here. The Hon. Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, relies on two similar inspirations: Think! and Man’s Harvest in Life Depends Entirely on What He Sows. Appointed to the Sixth Circuit in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter (Keith was named to the district court a decade earlier), the judge has been a strident champion of civil rights, affirmative action, and personal freedoms. “Democracies die behind closed doors,” Keith says.
His office in the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse Building in Detroit contains dozens of honorary degrees, a statue of Ben Franklin, African-American artwork, and two large fish tanks. “The aquariums are a form of relaxation,” he says.