Chief Justice Warren Burger

On this date in 1907, Chief Justice Warren Burger was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  Burger was one of the seven children of Charles and Katherine Burger.  His father worked as a traveling salesman and railroad cargo inspector.  After high school, Warren Burger worked as a life insurance salesman, while attending the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota at night.  After completing his undergraduate degree, Burger began attending law school at night at William Mitchell College of Law, also located in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1931.  After law school, Burger worked as a private practice attorney in St. Paul and also taught classes for the next twelve years at William Mitchell College of Law.  Burger became politically active in the Republican party in Minnesota and was a crucial supporter of Dwight Eisenhower at the Republican National Convention in 1952.  After President Eisenhower was elected in 1952, Burger was appointed Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division of the U.S. Justice Department.  In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Warren Burger as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where he served for the next thirteen years.  On May 22, 1969, President Richard Nixon nominated Warren Burger to the post of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court which was being vacated by the retirement of Chief Justice Earl Warren.  When appointed, President Nixon and other conservatives hoped that Chief Justice Burger would overturn or, at least end, the continued “liberal” rulings advanced by the Warren Court.  However, other than in a few areas of law, the Burger Court upheld and, in fact, expanded the Warren Court rulings.  Burger was also criticized by many of his colleagues on the Court for his leadership style.  On the other hand, Burger was widely acclaimed for his administrative abilities as head of the federal court system.  Chief Justice Burge initiated the National Center for State Courts, the Institute for Court Management, and the National Institute of Corrections as well as the annual State of the Judiciary speech.  While Chief Justice. Burger also served as Chairman of the Judicial Conference of the United States and Chairman of the Federal Judicial Center.  Burger was also instrumental in the creation of the Supreme Court Historical Society and a early proponent of Alternative Dispute Resolution.  In July, 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed Burger as Chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.  On September 26, 1986, Chief Justice Burger retired from the Court after seventeen years of service.  In retirement, Burger continued to lead the Bicentennial Commission (which held a large celebration in 1987) until it concluded it’s work in 1992.  On June 25, 1995, Chief Justice Warren Burger died in his sleep of congestive heart failure at age 87 in Washington, D.C.