William J. Brennan, Jr.

Media Items
Personal Information
Wednesday, April 25, 1906
Thursday, July 24, 1997
Childhood Location 
New Jersey
Childhood Surroundings 
New Jersey
Roman Catholic
William J. Brennan
Father's Occupation 
Labor organizer; brewery worker
Agnes McDermott
Family Status 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Monday, October 15, 1956
Sworn In 
Tuesday, October 16, 1956
Left Office 
Friday, July 20, 1990
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
33 years, 9 months, 4 days
New Jersey
William J. Brennan, Jr.
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (artist: Paul C. Burns)

William J. Brennan, Jr. was born and raised in New Jersey. The second of eight children born to Irish immigrants, Brennan gave early evidence of academic achievement. Brennan completed his law degree at Harvard and entered private practice in his home state of New Jersey. When his practice intruded on his devotion to his family, Brennan opted for service as a trial judge. He was promoted to the state's highest court in 1952.

He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In a 1987 interview, Brennan recalled his first day on the Court. Later, Eisenhower would publicly admit the appointment was a mistake. That's because Brennan proved to be the most liberal and influential justice on the modern Supreme Court. He authored important opinions in the areas of free expression, criminal procedure, and reapportionment.

As a result of his leadership, Brennan imparted his constitutional vision to a broad coalition of his colleagues. He resigned on account of health in 1990.

Clerk Law Schoolsort icon Terms Clerked
Richard M. Cooper Harvard (1969) 1969
Gerald M. Rosberg Harvard (1971) 1972
Barry S. Simon Harvard (1974) 1975
F. Whitten Peters Harvard (1976) 1977
Merrick B. Garland Harvard (1977) 1978
Michael B. Chertoff Harvard (1978) 1979
Jeffrey J. Rosen Harvard (1978) 1979
Jerold S. Kayden Harvard (1979) 1980
Jeffrey B. Kindler Harvard (1980) 1983
John F. Savarese Harvard (1981) 1983
James A. Feldman Harvard (1983) 1984
Jeffrey T. Leeds Harvard (1983) 1985
Einer R. Elhauge Harvard (1986) 1987
Jonathan S. Massey Harvard (1988) 1989
Julius Genachowski Harvard (1991) 1992

Which player's contribution to baseball best matches William J. Brennan, Jr.'s contribution to law?

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William J. Brennan, Jr.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 March 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_j_brennan_jr?order=field_education_value&sort=asc&page=3>.
William J. Brennan, Jr., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_j_brennan_jr?order=field_education_value&sort=asc&page=3 (last visited March 28, 2015).
"William J. Brennan, Jr.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed March 28, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_j_brennan_jr?order=field_education_value&sort=asc&page=3.