1975 November 12

William O. Douglas Resigns from Supreme Court


William O. Douglas was one of the greatest civil libertarians ever to serve on the Supreme Court. He served on the Court for 36 years and 209 days, making him the longest-serving Supreme Court Justice in history. Conservatives in Congress had made several attempts to have him removed from the Court because of his opinions, and also because of financial conflicts of interest as a member of the Court. Douglas was finally forced to resign on this day because of a debilitating stroke.

Among his many noted opinions was Griswold v. Connecticut (June 7, 1965), establishing a constitutional right to privacy. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he and Justice Hugo Black were often lone dissenters in support of civil liberties, particularly on Cold War issues. See especially their dissent in Dennis v. United States on June 4, 1951, which upheld the Smith Act making it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the government.

 Go hiking in the William O. Douglas Wilderness: http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&WID=65

Read: Bruce Murphy, Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas (2003)

Learn more about Justice Douglashttp://www.supremecourthistory.org/publications/william-douglas-remembered/

Learn more about William O. Douglas’ life and career: http://yakimavalleymuseum.org/identity/douglas.cfm

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