William O. Douglas

Media Items
Personal Information
Sunday, October 16, 1898
Saturday, January 19, 1980
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
William Douglas
Father's Occupation 
Presbyterian minister
Julia F. Bickford
Family Status 
Associate Justice
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 
Length of Service 
36 years, 6 months, 25 days
William O. Douglas
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Elek Kanarek)

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.

Clerk Law School Terms Clerked
Warren M. Christopher Stanford (1949) 1949
Stanley E. Sparrowe 1947
J. Roger Wollenberg Berkeley (1942) 1946
Lucile Lomen UW (1944) 1944
Eugene A. Beyer, Jr. 1943
Vern Countryman UW (1942) 1942
C. David Ginsburg Harvard 1939
Stanley C. Soderland UW (1939) 1939
Alan B. Sternstein Arizona (1975)

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

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William O. Douglas. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 March 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?page=2>.
William O. Douglas, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?page=2 (last visited March 28, 2015).
"William O. Douglas," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed March 28, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas?page=2.