Oren Harris

Oren Harris
Judge of the United States District Court for both the Eastern and Western districts of Arkansas
In office
February 3, 1966  February 3, 1976 (assumed senior status)
Preceded by New judgeship created
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1953  February 3, 1966
Preceded by Boyd A. Tackett
Succeeded by David Pryor
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1941  January 3, 1953
Preceded by Wade H. Kitchens
Succeeded by Redistricted to the 4th district
Personal details

(1903-12-20)December 20, 1903
Belton, Hempstead County

Arkansas, USA
Died February 5, 1997(1997-02-05) (aged 93)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Residence El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas
Alma mater

Henderson State University

Cumberland University School of Law
Occupation Attorney; Judge

Oren Harris (December 20, 1903 February 5, 1997) was a U.S. Representative and United States District Judge from El Dorado, Arkansas.


Born in Belton in Hempstead County near Hope, Arkansas, Harris attended public schools in Prescott in Nevada County. In 1929, he graduated from Henderson State College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Thereafter in 1930, he completed law school at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. He was admitted to the bar in 1930 and commenced practice in El Dorado, the seat of government of Union County.[1]

Harris served as deputy prosecuting attorney in Union County from 1933 to 1936 and as prosecuting attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit of Arkansas from 1937 to 1940. He served as delegate to the Democratic state conventions in 1936 and 1940, and the Democratic National Conventions in 1944, 1952, 1956, and the 1960.

Congressional service

In 1940, Harris was elected as U.S. Representative for Arkansas's 7th congressional district, which in 1950 was redistricted to 4th district, encompassing the southern portion of the state. He served without interruption for more than twenty-five years, from January 3, 1941, until February 2, 1966. He was the chairman of the Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, where in 1959 he presided over hearings on the "quiz show scandal."[2]

In the 1960s, Harris was the chairman of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (Eighty-fifth through Eighty-ninth Congresses). He was the lead House sponsor of the Kefauver Harris Amendment, an amendatory act to the federal Pure Food and Drug Act, the law that mandates that pharmaceutical companies disclose the side effects of medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States.

From Congressman to Federal Judge

On July 26, 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Harris to fill a newly created position as United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas.[3] He was confirmed August 11, 1965.[4] Although the records of the Federal Judicial Center reflect that Harris received his commission on August 12, 1965, Harris did not sign the commission until the following year, when on February 3, 1966, he both resigned his office as a member of Congress and was sworn in as a judge.[5]

At the time of his resignation, the entire Arkansas congressional delegation had been in office since 1953 or earlier, and the prolonged period without an open seat had created a backlog of candidates awaiting a vacancy.[6] In a special Democratic primary, future U.S. Senator David Pryor defeated future federal judge Richard S. Arnold and several other candidates. Pryor then took the position after he defeated Republican A. Lynn Lowe of Texarkana in the special general election.

Judicial service

Harris was the Chief Judge of the Western District from 1967 to 1973, while he continued to serve in both districts.[4] His active service ended when he assumed senior status on February 3, 1976, but he continued to handle a reduced number of cases.

He died on February 5, 1997.


  1. "Oren Harris (1903–1997)". Sherry Laymon, The Central Arkansas Library System - EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net. September 28, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  2. Congress, House, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Investigation of Television Quiz Shows, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 1959 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960).
  3. "Federal District Judgeship Goes to Rep. Oren Harris," Northwest Arkansas Times, 1965-07-27, at 1 (available on Newspaperarchive.com).
  4. 1 2 http://www.fjc.gov/public/home.nsf/hisj (biography of Oren Harris).
  5. "Oren Harris Sworn In As A Judge; Thinks He Will Enjoy the Job," Northwest Arkansas Times, 1967-02-04, at 14.
  6. "Arkansas Demos Due Primary To Halt Battle for Nomination," Abilene Reporter-News, 1965-12-29 at 14A (available on Newspaperarchive.com).

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Wade H. Kitchens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 7th congressional district

District abolished
Preceded by
Boyd A. Tackett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
David Pryor
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Elsijane Trimble Roy
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Elsijane Trimble Roy
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