Biographical Information

Biographical Info

Snapshot of Warren E. Burger during his time as judge at the Federal Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 1957.

Warren E. Burger (1907-1995) grew up under modest circumstances in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota and then the St. Paul College of Law as a night student while working fulltime during the day. After graduating magna cum laude in 1931, he joined the reputable law firm of Boyeson, Otis, Brill & Faricy in St. Paul, becoming a partner in 1935. He actively managed Harold Stassen's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but when it became apparent at the 1952 GOP convention that Stassen would not get enough votes, he decided at the last minute to give Minnesota's votes to one of the leading contenders, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and thereby decided the latter's nomination. This move contributed to his becoming Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, in the U.S. Department of Justice under the Eisenhower administration in 1953.

In 1955 he was nominated as a judge for the Federal Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, a position he held from 1956 until 1969, when President Nixon appointed him Chief Justice of the United States. His nomination was confirmed by an overwhelming margin in June of the same year. During his seventeen years as Chief Justice, he not only presided over the Court's many historic decisions but also worked tirelessly to improve the way the judiciary functions and justice is administered throughout the nation's courts.

In 1986, Warren E. Burger retired from the Supreme Court and devoted himself to his role as the chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. All facets of Warren E. Burger's career and life are well represented in the approximately 1,200 cubic feet of papers, 3,500 photographs and more than 300 artifacts in custody at Swem Library's Special Collections.