Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.

Powell, Lewis Franklin, Jr., 1907–98, American lawyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1971–87), b. Suffolk, Va. He studied law at Washington and Lee Univ. and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1931. He had a successful law practice in Richmond and held several local offices. Powell also held several prestigious positions, including president of the American Bar Association and chairman of the Virginia Board of Education. After repeatedly declining President Nixon's requests to join the Supreme Court, he finally accepted (1971) the post. Respected as a conservative in his jurisprudence, he was socially liberal, particularly in his ardent support of school integration. On the Supreme Court, he proved his moderate stance on various issues, voting with the majority in the landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade. His best-known opinion was Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), in which he upheld the principle of affirmative action while rejecting the use of quotas. He was often the swing vote on closely contested decisions.

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