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 
Clerksort icon Law School Terms Clerked
Radhika Rao Harvard (1990) 1992
Ralph I. Miller Texas (1972) 1972
Randall P. Bezanson Iowa (1971) 1972
Richard A. Meserve Harvard (1975) 1976
Richard Blumenthal Yale (1974) 1974
Richard K. Willard Harvard (1975) 1976
Robert E. Gooding Jr. Michigan (1969) 1970
Robert I. Richter Chicago (1972) 1973
Ruth Wedgwood Yale (1976) 1977
Sarah H. Cleveland Yale (1992) 1993
Scott R. McIntosh Harvard 1983
Sherry Colb Harvard (1991) 1992
Stephanie Dangel Yale (1991) 1991
Susan G. Lahne Virginia (1979) 1980
Thomas W. Merrill Chicago (1977) 1978

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Cite this Page
Harry A. Blackmun. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 01 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun?page=4&order=title&sort=asc>.
Harry A. Blackmun, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun?page=4&order=title&sort=asc (last visited September 1, 2014).
"Harry A. Blackmun," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/justices/harry_a_blackmun?page=4&order=title&sort=asc.