Birch Bayh, U.S. Senator

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Birch Evans Bayh, Jr.

Birthplace: Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana, United States
Death: March 14, 2019 (91)
his home, Easton, Talbot County, Maryland, United States (Pneumonia)
Immediate Family:

Son of Birch Bayh and Leah Ward Bayh
Husband of Marvella Belle Bayh and Private
Father of Evan Bayh, Governor, U.S. Senator

Occupation: Farmer, lawyer, politician
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Birch Bayh, U.S. Senator

Birch Evans Bayh Jr. (January 22, 1928 – March 14, 2019) was a former United States Senator from Indiana, having served from 1963 to 1981. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in the 1976 election, but lost to Jimmy Carter. He is the father of former Indiana Governor and former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh.

Life and career

Bayh was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, a son of Birch Evans Bayh, Sr. and his wife Leah Ward (née Hollingsworth). As an MP, he served with the United States Army in occupied Germany following World War II. Bayh graduated from the Purdue University School of Agriculture in 1951 and later attended Indiana State University. He received his JD from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1960.

Bayh served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1954 to 1962. He rose to the position of Speaker, and in 1961 was admitted to the Indiana Bar. He won the 1962 US Senate race in Indiana.

On June 19, 1964, Bayh, his wife, Senator Ted Kennedy and legislative aide Edward Moss were on a small plane that crashed in heavy fog near Springfield, Massachusetts. Senator Bayh pulled the badly injured Kennedy from the wreckage. Bayh and his wife were only slightly injured, while the pilot and Moss were both killed.

Bayh was influential in the passing of Title IX to the Higher Education Act, which aimed to give women equal opportunities in public education.

As chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, Bayh was the principal architect of two constitutional amendments:

The 25th Amendment, which established the rules for presidential succession and disability.
The 26th Amendment, which lowered the minimum voting age to 18.

Bayh was also the principal Senate sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed both Houses of Congress, but was not ratified by the states. The proposed Constitutional change with which he was most closely associated in his final years in the Senate was his attempt to eliminate the Electoral College (the method of electing the President of the United States) and replace it with a popular vote in the 1960s and 70s. One of Bayh's proposals passed the House easily but was filibustered in the Senate. In 1977 he introduced reform legislation into the Senate, but it never achieved the required two-thirds vote in either house of Congress. In 2006, he joined the National Popular Vote Inc. coalition, which aims to effect Electoral College reform through an interstate compact, and wrote a foreword to the book Every Vote Equal.

He was a co-sponsor of the Bayh-Dole Act which allowed United States universities, small businesses, and non-profit organizations to retain intellectual property rights of inventions developed from federal government-funded research.

Bayh intended to run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for president, but his wife was diagnosed with cancer and he put his plans on hold. Before her death in 1979, Marvella Bayh became a leading cancer activist. In October 1975 Bayh announced his candidacy for the 1976 Democratic nomination. Bayh was considered a leading choice out of 12 candidates, and he was popular with organized labor and other liberal groups. However, his late start put him at a fundraising and organizational disadvantage. In January/February, Bayh finished third in the Iowa caucuses behind Uncommitted delegates and Jimmy Carter and third in the New Hampshire primary behind Carter and Morris K. Udall. A week later, Bayh finished a weak seventh place in the Massachusetts primary and ended his candidacy.

He ran for reelection for a fourth term in the 1980 election. Bayh and his opponent, Congressman and future Vice President Dan Quayle, engaged in seven debates. In those debates, Quayle attacked Bayh's liberal voting record, which hurt Bayh, and he was defeated for reelection in the Republican landslide year, with 46% of the vote to Quayle's 54%. Bayh has since resumed his law practice.

He currently resides in Easton, Maryland, with his second wife Kitty, is a fellow at the C.V Starr Center of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Venable LLP.


In 1981, Bayh joined Robert Drinan, Don Edwards, Edith Green, Patsy Mink and Pat Schroeder to file an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the case of North Haven Board of Education v. Bell. Bayh had been the sponsor and floor manager of Title IX in the Senate. The brief urged affirmance of the lower court's decision that Title IX proscribes employment discrimination in federally funded education programs. The court agreed.

In 2004, Bayh filed an amicus brief in another case relating to Title IX, Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education. Bayh urged reversal of the lower court's holding; the Supreme Court agreed, reversing the 11th Circuit and holding that Title IX created a private right of action to parties alleging retaliation for reporting sex discrimination.

In 2010, Bayh filed an amicus brief in Stanford v. Roche, a case in which the Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the Bayh-Dole Act required that ownership patents for inventions resulting from federally-funded research must automatically go to the federal contractor. Bayh argued that "a federal contractor's ownership rights to inventions covered by the Bayh-Dole Act cannot be terminated unilaterally by an individual inventor through a separate agreement purporting to assign the inventor's rights to a third party." The court disagreed, writing that "the Bayh-Dole Act does not automatically vest title to federally funded inventions in federal contractors or authorize contractors to unilaterally take title to such inventions."


The Making of an Amendment, Bobbs-Merrill, 1966.
One Heartbeat Away: President Disability and Succession, Bobbs-Merrill, 1968.
Drug Abuse in the Military. Report, Based on Hearings and Investigations, 1966–1970, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1971.
Legislative Oversight Hearings on Federal Juvenile Delinquency Programs, March 31 and April 1, 1971, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1971.
Barbiturate Abuse in the United States: Report Based on Hearings and Investigations, 1971–1972, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1973.
Selected Materials on the Twenty—Fifth Amendment: Report of Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1973.
Our Nation's Schools—a Report Card "A" In School Violence and Vandalism: Preliminary Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Based on Investigations, 1971–1975, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1975.
Challenge for the Third Century: Education in a Safe Environment: Final Report on the Nature and Prevention of School Violence and Vandalism: Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1977.


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Birch Bayh, U.S. Senator's Timeline

January 22, 1928
Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana, United States
December 26, 1955
Shirkieville, Vigo County, Indiana, United States
March 14, 2019
Age 91
Easton, Talbot County, Maryland, United States