Judge Ellis practiced law from 1929 to 1961. He served as a Louisiana State Senator from 1940 to 1944 and as Senate President Pro Tempore. In 1948, 1952, and 1956, Judge Ellis was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy named Judge Ellis to direct the new civil defense office. He was also a member of the National Security Council, a director of the Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization in the administration of President Kennedy, before being appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Judge Ellis was born on February 10, 1907 into a politically connected family. His ancestors included Confederate military men and civic and government leaders. He attended Gulf Coast Military Academy in Gulfport, Mississippi. In 1929, Judge Ellis received his L.L.B. degree from Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge. He died on November 5, 1969.
As civil defense director, he pushed strongly for the establishment of fallout shelters during the Cold War. In 1962, President Kennedy appointed him to the federal bench in New Orleans to the seat being vacated by J. Skelly Wright.
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