Earl Warren

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Template:Infobox US Chief Justice

Earl Warren (March 19, 1891July 9, 1974) was a California district attorney of Alameda County, the 30th Governor of California, and the 14th Chief Justice of the United States (from 1953 to 1969). As Chief Justice, 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.


Education and early career

Earl Warren was born in Los Angeles, California, to Matt Warren, a Norwegian immigrant, and Christine "Chrystal" Hernlund, a Swedish immigrant. Matt Warren 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 (B.A. 1912) in Legal Studies and as a law student at Boalt Hall earning his JD in 1914. While at Berkeley, Warren joined the Sigma Phi Society, a fraternal organization with which he maintained lifelong ties. Warren was admitted to the California bar in 1914.

Warren then worked for five years for private law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began working 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 and reformer who professionalized the DAs office, Warren had a reputation for high-handedness; however, none of his convictions were ever overturned on appeal.

Political career

Warren became a well-known figure in California and was appointed to the Regents of the University of California while district attorney. In 1939, he became Attorney General of the State of California. He was elected Governor of California, in 1942, as a Republican. California law at the time allowed individuals to run in any primary election 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.

Warren ran for Vice President of the United States in 1948 on a ticket with Thomas Dewey. They lost narrowly to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley.

Supreme Court

Image:EarlWarren.jpg In 1953, Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who commented that "he represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court. . . . [H]e has a national name for integrity, uprightness, and courage that, again, I believe we need on the Court."Template:Ref To the surprise of many, Warren was a much more liberal justice than had been anticipated. As a result, President Eisenhower later remarked that nominating Warren for the Chief Justice seat "was the biggest damned fool mistake I've ever made in my life." Warren 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; Hernandez v. Texas, which gave Mexican-Americans the right to serve on juries; and 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 (often called the "Miranda warning").

At the direct request of President Lyndon Johnson, and against his better judgment, Warren headed what became known as the Warren Commission to investigate the circumstances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Commission eventually concluded that the assassination was the act of a single individual, Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone. The Commission's findings have long been controversial. (Earl Warren was a character in the Oliver Stone film, JFK, portrayed by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison.)

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 has a high school named after him in Downey, California: Warren High School. It should be noted that this high school, founded in 1956, was originally called "Earl Warren High School." Warren had attended the dedication of the school and given a speech. In the later 1960s, the Downey Unified School District's Board of Education officially changed the name of the school to simply "Warren High School" in an effort to discredit the Chief Justice for his liberalism and also to distance the Los Angeles suburb, which was then nearly all-white and very heavily Republican, from the Chief Justice who put an end to school segregation. Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach, California is also named after him. In 1977, Fourth College, one of the six undergraduate colleges at the University of California, San Diego, was renamed Earl Warren College in his honor. In 2002, "Earl Warren High School" was built and established in San Antonio, Texas for Warren's namesake.

Warren was married to a young widow born in Sweden named Nina Palmquist Meyers. He died in Washington, DC. The Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project is named in his honor. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1981.


Warren is the father of Virginia Warren, who married veteran radio and television newsman and host of What's My Line?, John Charles Daly, on December 22, 1960. They had three children, two boys and a girl. Warren is the grandfather of the famous Hollywood mogul, John Warren.

However Warren is not the grandfather of actor Tim Daly and actress Tyne Daly. Tyne and Tim are not related to Justice Warren. They were born well before the 1960 marriage of Daly and Warren. Their father, James Daly, not John Charles, has no obvious connection to the Justice.



  • "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."
  • "I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people's accomplishments; the front page nothing but man's failures." From Sports Illustrated, July 22, 1968
  • "The only reason that there has been no sabotage or espionage on the part of Japanese-Americans is that they are waiting for the right moment to strike." Testimony before Congress on the Internment of people of Japanese Ancestry (1941)


  1. Template:Note Personal and confidential To Milton Stover Eisenhower, 9 October 1953. In The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, ed. L. Galambos and D. van Ee, doc. 460. World Wide Web facsimile by The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission of the print edition; Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Accessed 12 October, 2005

External links

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