Burger, Warren Earl

Burger, Warren Earl, 1907–95, American jurist, 15th chief justice of the United States (1969–86), b. St. Paul, Minn. After receiving his law degree in 1931 from St. Paul College of Law (now Mitchell College of Law), he was admitted to the Minnesota bar and taught and practiced law in St. Paul. He was (1953–56) assistant attorney general in charge of the civil division of the Department of Justice before becoming judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Appointed to head the Supreme Court by President Nixon, and perceived as a conservative and an advocate of judicial restraint, Burger was less forceful than had been expected in limiting or reversing the liberal decisions of the court headed by his predecessor Earl Warren. Nonetheless, while comparatively strong in the area of women's rights, the Burger court did advance the conservative agenda in such areas as loosening constraints on police, prosecutorial discretion, and the use of illegally obtained evidence, leaving such decisions to prosecutors and state legislatures. In addition, his court tended to weaken laws pertaining to church-state separation, employment descrimination, suburban school integration, and various other areas. Burger was also a consistent advocate for administrative reform in the court system.

See M. J. Graetz and L. Greenhouse, The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (2016).

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