1953 October 2

Earl Warren Joins Supreme Court


Because of the sudden death of Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, and the need for a full Court, Earl Warren was given an interim appointment as Chief Justice on this day. He was not confirmed by the Senate until March 1, 1954.

Warren’s name became synonymous with civil liberties as Chief Justice of the activist, pro-civil libertarian Warren Court. He wrote the Court’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education (May 17, 1954) and is credited with working to achieve a unanimous opinion in what everyone recognized would be a landmark and extremely controversial decision. He also wrote the majority opinion in Miranda v. Arizona on June 13, 1966. Warren had been a tough “law and order” prosecutor in Oakland, California, in the 1930s, and his Miranda opinion, which imposed significant restraints on police tactics, represented a complete turnabout in this thinking on this issue.

Read: Jim Newton, Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made (2006)

Watch a 1952 (pre-Supreme Court) interview with Warren: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szb7ifgN67w

Watch a symposium on the Life and Legacy of Earl Warren: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L8rVD9a6e4&list=PLVPKwkpUsDhzAeCPROEqCfQB1SIlWH6dP

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