Earl Warren

U.S. Supreme Court Justice / Jurist / Civil Rights Figure

Born: 19 March 1891
Died: 9 July 1974
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Best known as: Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953-69
Earl Warren was a Republican attorney and politician who served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court during a period of expanding civil rights and civil liberties. Warren was raised in central California and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. During his career he served as the district attorney for California's Alameda County (1925-39), California's attorney general (1939-43) and governor of California (1943-53) before running as a candidate for vice president in Thomas Dewey's 1948 bid to unseat Harry S. Truman. Warren sought the presidential nomination in 1952, but lost out to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Within a year of the election, President Eisenhower nominated Warren for the Supreme Court and Warren, who had no prior judicial experience, was sworn in as Chief Justice on 5 October 1953. During his tenure, the Supreme Court ruled on a number of cases involving civil rights, including 1954's Brown v. Board of Education and 1966's Miranda v. Arizona. The Warren Court ruled against segregated public schools, ensured the rights of suspected criminals and determined a constitutional "right of privacy." Some people celebrate the Warren Court for expanding rights and liberties, others condemn its "judicial activism" and accuse it of overreaching.
Extra credit: After the death of John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a reluctant Warren to chair a commission investigating the assassination. Called the Warren Commission, the panel concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he killed Kennedy... Warren retired from the court in 1969.

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  • Brown v. Board of Education - 50th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education.
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