Warren E. Burger (1907-1995) was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States and the 20th Chancellor of William & Mary.
He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota and then the St. Paul College of Law as a night student, all while working full time during the day. After graduating magna cum laude in 1931, he joined the firm Boyeson, Otis, Brill & Faricy St. Paul, becoming a partner in 1933. His participation in Harold Stassen's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952 led to his becoming Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, in the U.S. Department of Justice under the Eisenhower administration. He served as a judge for the Federal Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, from 1956-1969. In May 1969, President Nixon appointed him Chief Justice of the United States, and his nomination was confirmed by an overwhelming margin in June.
During his seventeen years as Chief Justice, he not only presided over the Court's many historic decisions but also worked tirelessly to improve the way the judiciary functions and how justice is administered throughout the nation's courts. In 1986, he resigned from the Supreme Court to devote his time and energy to serving as chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, while also serving as Chancellor of William & Mary from 1986-1993. In 1996, Wade A. Burger donated his father’s papers to William & Mary Libraries. All facets of Chief Justice Burger’s career are well represented in the approximately 1,200 cubic feet of papers, 2,500 photographs and more than 300 artifacts in custody of the Special Collections Research Center.
The following is a brief selection of the Chief Justice’s many honors and awards:
|1973||Honorary Doctor of Laws degree||William & Mary|
|1978||John Marshall Award for Excellence in American Legal History||William & Mary|
|1983||George Washington Award||Freedoms Foundation|
|1984||Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award||Dwight D. Opperman Foundation|
|1984||Presidential Citation||American Bar of the United States Supreme Court|
|1985||Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law||University of Virginia School of Law|
|1987||James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service||American Whig-Cliosophic Society of Princeton|
|1987||American Bar Association Medal||American Bar Association|
|1988||Sylvanus Thayer Award||United States Military Academy|
|1988||Presidential Medal of Freedom||U.S. President Ronald Reagan|
William & Mary Chancellor
Alvin Duke Chandler 1962-1974
Warren E. Burger 1986-1993
Lady Margaret Thatcher 1993-2000
Biography of Warren E. Burger on Oyez from Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LII), Justia, and Chicago-Kent College of Law
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger related audio and video coverage on C-Span