Earl Warren (March 19, 1891 – July 9, 1974) was a California district attorney and 30th Governor of California, but is best known as the 14th Chief Justice of the United States from 1953–1969. His term of office was marked by numerous rulings affecting among other things, the legal status of racial segregation, civil rights, separation of church and state, and police arrest procedure in the United States.
He was born in Los Angeles, California to Matt Warren, a Norwegian immigrant; and Christine "Chrystal" Hernlund, a Swedish immigrant. His father was a longtime employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Earl grew up in Bakersfield, California, and attended the University of California, Berkeley both as an undergraduate and for law school at Boalt Hall. Warren then worked for five years for private law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. He went to work for San Francisco County in 1920 and in 1925 was appointed as District Attorney of Alameda County when the incumbent resigned. He was re-elected to three four-year terms. As a tough-on-crime District Attorney, Warren had a reputation for high-handedness, however, none of his convictions was ever overturned on appeal.
Warren became a well-known figure in California and was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of California while district attorney. In 1939, he became Attorney General of the State of California. He ran for governor of California in 1942 as a Republican and was elected. California law at the time allowed individuals to run in any primary elections they chose. In 1946, Warren managed the singular feat of winning the Republican, Democratic and Progressive primary elections and thus ran unopposed in the 1946 general election. He was elected to a third term (as a Republican) in 1950.
Warren's state service was marked by his support for the internment of Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. However, it was also marked by laying the infrastructure to support a two-decade boom that lasted from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s. In particular, Warren and University of California President Clark Kerr presided over construction of a renowned public university system that provided inexpensive, high quality education to two generations of Californians.
In 1953, Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by Dwight D. Eisenhower. To the surprise of many, Warren was a much more liberal justice than had been anticipated. He was able to craft a long series of landmark decisions including Brown v. Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954), which overthrew the segregation of public schools; the "one man one vote" cases of 1962–1964, which dramatically altered the relative power of rural regions in many states; and Miranda from the case Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966), which required that certain rights of a person being interrogated while in police custody be clearly explained, including the right to an attorney.
At the direct request of President Lyndon Johnson, and against his better judgment, Warren headed the Warren Commission. The Commission eventually concluded that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the act of a single individual, Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone. The Commission's findings have long been controversial.
Warren retired from the Supreme Court in 1969. He was affectionately known by many as the 'Superchief,' although he became a lightning rod for controversy among conservatives: signs declaring 'Impeach Earl Warren' could be seen across the South throughout the 1960s.
Warren died in Washington, DC. The Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project is named in his honor.
- "Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests." From Reynolds v. Sims, on the subject of State Senate apportionment.
- "It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defense of our nation worthwhile."
- Transcript, Earl Warren Oral History Interview I, 9/21/71, by Joe B. Frantz, Internet Copy, LBJ Library. Accessed April 3, 2005.
|Governor of California|
John W. Bricker
|Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate|
Fred M. Vinson
|Chief Justice of the United States|
October 5, 1953–June 23, 1969
Warren E. Burger