Frank Murphy held diverse positions before his elevation to the Court. He was mayor of Detroit from 1930 to 1933, governor general of the Philippines from 1933 to 1935, governor of Michigan from 1937 to 1939, and United States attorney general from 1939-40. While attorney general, Murphy established the first civil rights unit in the Justice Department. Murphy longed to be part of the war effort while on the bench. During Court recesses, he served as an infantry officer in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Murphy was a strong liberal who had the most impact through his concurring and dissenting opinions.