Fred M. Vinson

Media Items
Personal Information
Wednesday, January 22, 1890
Tuesday, September 8, 1953
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Chief Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Friday, June 21, 1946
Sworn In 
Monday, June 24, 1946
Left Office 
Tuesday, September 8, 1953
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
7 years, 2 months, 14 days
Fred M. Vinson
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: William Franklin Draper)

Fred Vinson was the son of a rural Kentucky county jailer and his wife. He worked his way through college and law school and entered the practice of lawin Kentucky at the age of 21.

Vinson was a congressman for 8 terms and served on the influential Ways and Means Committee during much of the New Deal. He resigned his House seat to accept an appointment by Roosevelt to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. After five years on the bench, Vinson resigned to accept an appointment in the Roosevelt administration as head of the Office of Economic Stabilization. Vinson later succeeded former justice James Byrnes as head of the Office of War Mobilization.

Vinson became a trusted advisor to President Harry Truman, who appointed him Secretary of the Treasury. Truman later nominated Vinson to the position of Chief Justice.

Vinson avoided the announcement of sweeping constitutional principles. He resisted overturning prior decisions. Though he helped chip away at the "separate but equal" doctrine of racial separation, he resisted a head-on confrontation of the issue in Brown v. Board of Education. Vinson's sudden death from a heart attack in 1953 paved the way for the unanimous opinion crafted by Vinson's successor, Earl Warren.

Clerk Law Schoolsort icon Terms Clerked
Lawrence F. Ebb Harvard (1946) 1947
Carl S. Hawkins Northwestern 1952
Francis A. Allen Northwestern (1946) 1946, 1947
Arthur R. Seder, Jr. Northwestern (1947) 1947
Howard J. Trienens Northwestern (1949) 1950
William W. Oliver Northwestern (1949) 1952
Newton N. Minow Northwestern (1950) 1951
Earl E. Pollock Northwestern (1953)
James C.N. Paul Penn (1951) 1951
Byron R. White Yale (1946) 1946

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Fred M. Vinson. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 March 2015. <>.
Fred M. Vinson, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited March 28, 2015).
"Fred M. Vinson," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed March 28, 2015,