- NAME: Lewis F. Powell Jr.
- OCCUPATION: Judge, Supreme Court Justice
- BIRTH DATE: September 19, 1907
- DEATH DATE: August 25, 1998
- EDUCATION: Washington and Lee University, Harvard Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Suffolk, Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Richmond, Virginia
- Full Name: Lewis Franklin Powell Jr.
- AKA: Lewis Franklin Powell
- AKA: Lewis Powell
- AKA: Lewis F. Powell
- AKA: Lewis F. Powell Jr.
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Lewis Powell was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1972 to 1987.
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His vote helped keep anti-sodomy laws on the books in Georgia in the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick. The decision in this case was seen as a setback for gay rights. The following year, Powell found in favor of upholding the death penalty despite the apparent racial imbalance in those executed in McClesky v. Kemp in 1987. Years later, Powell came to consider his position on Bowers v. Hardwick as a mistake.
In June 1987, Powell stepped down from the Supreme Court. He still heard cases for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia after leaving his post. And, for nearly a decade, Powell maintained his chambers at the Supreme Court. He died on August 25, 1998, at his home in Richmond, Virginia. He was 90 years old.
Upon learning of Powell's passing, his former Supreme Court colleague William Rehnquist remembered him as "the very embodiment of 'judicial temperament,'" according to the Washington Post. Rehnquist said that Powell was "receptive to the ideas of his colleagues, fair to the parties to the case, but ultimately relying on his own seasoned judgment." President Bill Clinton also sang Powell's praises, calling him "one of our most thoughtful and conscientious justices," according to the Boston Globe.
A courthouse in Powell's beloved Richmond now bears his name; it is just one of the many posthumous honors awarded to this famed jurist.
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The Supreme Court has presided over landmark cases that have changed the history of the United States. At times, the judges themselves have been the history makers, as in the case of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court; and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Here’s a look at the famous judges who have served on the United States' highest court.
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