David J. Brewer

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Personal Information
Tuesday, June 20, 1837
Monday, March 28, 1910
Childhood Location 
Asia Minor
Childhood Surroundings 
Asia Minor
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Wednesday, December 18, 1889
Sworn In 
Monday, January 6, 1890
Left Office 
Monday, March 28, 1910
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
20 years, 2 months, 22 days
David J. Brewer
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Robert Lea MacCameron)

David Josiah Brewer was born in what is now Turkey; his father was a Congregational missionary. Brewer was educated in Connecticut; he graduated from Yale following two years of study at Wesleyan. Brewer spent virtually all his professional life in government service, moving from moderate liberalism as a state judge to strident conservatism as a federal judge. He was nominated to the High Court in 1889.

Brewer lived up to the reputation that preceded him to the Supreme Court; he was an active contributor to the doctrine of substantive due process. This is the notion that there are certain activities outside the scope of legitimate government. The effect of this doctrine would be to free activities from any government control. The doctrine was confined to the economic and regulatory sphere when Brewer served on the Court; but the same doctrine has come to play a vital role in protecting individual liberty from government overreaching.

Brewer may be best remembered for his dissenting opinions. However, he spoke for a unanimous Court in Muller v. Oregon (1908).

Clerksort icon Law School Terms Clerked
Frederick J. Haig 1902, 1903, 1904, 1907, 1909, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1900

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David J. Brewer. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/david_j_brewer?order=title&sort=desc>.
David J. Brewer, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/david_j_brewer?order=title&sort=desc (last visited August 29, 2015).
"David J. Brewer," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 29, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/david_j_brewer?order=title&sort=desc.