- NAME: Warren Burger
- OCCUPATION: Supreme Court Justice
- BIRTH DATE: September 17, 1907
- DEATH DATE: June 25, 1995
- Did You Know?: Warren Burger is the longest-serving U.S. Supreme Court chief justice of the 20th century.
- EDUCATION: St. Paul College of Law (William Mitchell College), University of Minnesota
- PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Paul, Minnesota
- PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.
- Full Name: Warren Earl Burger
- AKA: Warren Burger
Best Known For
Warren Burger was the 15th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, nominated by President Richard Nixon.
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Quickly confirmed by the Senate, Burger was sworn in as chief justice in June 1969. Contrary to conservatives' expectations, Chief Justice Burger and the three other Nixon-appointed justices did not reverse the tide of Warren Court decisions on civil rights and criminal law. The Burger Court upheld the 1966 Miranda decision requiring police to fully explain a person's rights upon arrest,
and ruled against the Nixon Administration's desire to invalidate the need for a search warrant in cases of domestic surveillance in United States v. U.S. District Court (1972). Though he was a dissenting vote, just two weeks later, the Court invalidated all death-penalty laws then in force. There were a few cases where the Burger Court did erode Warren Court decisions, however, among them United States v. Leon (1984), where the Court recognized the "good-faith" exception of evidence seized on the basis of a mistakenly issued search warrant.
As chief justice, Warren Burger's opinions weren't particularly known for their comprehensive application of legal principles. Instead, Burger focused his efforts on the administrative functions of his office and worked to improve the efficiency of the judicial system. Among his reforms were courts employing professional administrators to help run the courts and continuing education for judges.
Burger retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986, after 20 years of service—making him the longest-serving chief justice of the 20th century. He went on to work full-time as chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution (1987), and served as chancellor of the College of William & Mary from 1986 to 1993. In 1988, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Warren Burger died in his sleep on June 25, 1995, at his home in Washington, D.C., from congestive heart failure. He was 87 years old. Burger's casket was displayed at the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and his remains are interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
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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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