Harry A. Blackmun

Media Items
Personal Information
Born 
Thursday, November 12, 1908
Died 
Thursday, March 4, 1999
Childhood Location 
Illinois
Childhood Surroundings 
Illinois
Religion 
Methodist
Ethnicity 
English/German
Father 
Corwin Blackmun
Father's Occupation 
Businessman
Mother 
Theo Reuter
Family Status 
Middle
Position 
Associate Justice
Seat 
3
Nominated By 
Nixon
Commissioned on 
Thursday, May 14, 1970
Sworn In 
Tuesday, June 9, 1970
Left Office 
Wednesday, August 3, 1994
Reason For Leaving 
Retired
Length of Service 
24 years, 1 month, 24 days
Home 
Minnesota
Harry A. Blackmun
Everett Raymond Kinstler, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
Biography 

Harry Blackmun was born in southern Illinois and raised in Minnesota. One of his earliest friends from his days in grade school was Warren Burger; they would later serve together on the nation's highest court.

Blackmun attended Harvard College and graduated with a degree in mathematics. He completed his law degree at Harvard and then clerked for a federal appeals court judge in Minneapolis. He then entered private legal practice until President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Blackmun to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Blackmun was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Nixon following the Senate's rejection of two other Nixon nominees.

Early on, Blackmun was frequently paired with conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger. Within a short time, however, Blackmun emerged as a sympathetic liberal. Perhaps his most famous (or infamous) opinion recognized a constitutional right to abortion. The result was a tirade of abuse on Blackmun personally and on the Court he served.

In 1994, after nearly 24 years of service, Blackmun announced his decision to retire. His sentimentalism endeared him to liberals, though Blackmun insisted he did not change his views. At his retirement news conference, Blackmun reflected on his first day as a Justice. His rhetorical question posed on his first day of service -- "What am I doing here?" -- offers a puzzling clue to the core of his jurisprudence.

Clerkships 
Clerk Law School Terms Clerked
Clare Huntington Columbia (1996) 1998
Laura A. Dickinson Yale (1996) 1997
Cecillia D. Wang Yale (1995) 1996
Michael J. Wishnie Yale (1993) 1995
Paul H. Schwartz North Carolina (1992) 1994
Michelle L. Alexander Stanford (1992) 1993
Sarah H. Cleveland Yale (1992) 1993
Ann Hubbard Duke (1992) 1993
J. Paul Oetken Yale (1991) 1993
Sherry Colb Harvard (1991) 1992
William S. Dodge Yale (1991) 1992
Geoffrey M. Klineberg Yale (1990) 1992
Andrew H. Schapiro Harvard (1990) 1992
Radhika Rao Harvard (1990) 1992
Jeffrey A. Meyer Yale (1991) 1991

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Cite this Page
Harry A. Blackmun. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun>.
Harry A. Blackmun, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun (last visited September 19, 2014).
"Harry A. Blackmun," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun.