William O. Douglas

Media Items
Personal Information
Born 
Sunday, October 16, 1898
Died 
Saturday, January 19, 1980
Childhood Location 
Minnesota
Childhood Surroundings 
Minnesota
Religion 
Presbyterian
Ethnicity 
Scottish
Father 
William Douglas
Father's Occupation 
Presbyterian minister
Mother 
Julia F. Bickford
Family Status 
Lower
Position 
Associate Justice
Seat 
6
Nominated By 
Roosevelt, F.
Commissioned on 
Saturday, April 15, 1939
Sworn In 
Monday, April 17, 1939
Left Office 
Wednesday, November 12, 1975
Reason For Leaving 
Retired
Length of Service 
36 years, 6 months, 25 days
Home 
Connecticut
William O. Douglas
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Elek Kanarek)
Biography 

William Orville Douglas was born in Minnesota but spent most of his youth in Yakima, Washington. He was stricken with polio as a child, and hiked in the mountains to strengthen his weak legs. This activity was the source of his love of the environment.

Douglas served on the Securities and Exchange Commission before being tapped for the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. Roosevelt came close to picking Douglas as his running mate in the 1944 election, which would have made Douglas president upon Roosevelt's death in 1945. Douglas supported unpopular political causes and maintained an unconventional lifestyle (he was married four times). His opinions were characterized by a fierce commitment to individual rights and a powerful distrust of government power. Critics claimed that his work showed signs of haste (he was a rapid writer), but defenders admired the forceful and blunt manner by which he reached the core issue in each case.

Brilliant, eccentric and independent, William O. Douglas holds the record for the longest continuous service on the nation's most powerful Court: 36 years and 7 months.

Clerkships 
Clerk Law Schoolsort icon Terms Clerked
John G. Burnett Yale 1950
Lucas A. Powe, Jr. UW (1968) 1970
Lucile Lomen UW (1944) 1944
Vern Countryman UW (1942) 1942
Stanley C. Soderland UW (1939) 1939
Janet Meik USC (1972) 1972
Richard L. Jacobson USC (1970) 1971
Dennis C. Brown UCLA (1970) 1970
William Cohen UCLA (1956) 1956
Dennis J. Hutchinson Texas (1974) 1976
Alan Austin Stanford (1974) 1974
William A. Reppy, Jr. Stanford (1966) 1967
Jared G. Carter Stanford (1962) 1962
William A. Norris Stanford (1954) 1955
Marshall L. Small Stanford (1951) 1951

Which player's contribution to baseball best matches William O. Douglas's contribution to law?

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Cite this Page
William O. Douglas. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?order=field_education_value&sort=desc&=>.
William O. Douglas, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?order=field_education_value&sort=desc&= (last visited July 23, 2014).
"William O. Douglas," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?order=field_education_value&sort=desc&=.