Died when: 87 years 281 days
Star Sign: Virgo
Warren Earl Burger (September 17, 1907 – June 25, 1995) was the 15th chief justice of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1986. Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Burger graduated from the St. Paul College of Law in 1931. He helped secure the Minnesota delegation's support for Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1952 Republican National Convention. After Eisenhower won the 1952 presidential election, he appointed Burger to the position of Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division. In 1956, Eisenhower appointed Burger to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Burger served on this court until 1969 and became known as a critic of the Warren Court. In 1969, President Richard Nixon nominated Burger to succeed Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Burger won Senate confirmation. He did not emerge as a strong intellectual force on the court, but sought to improve the administration of the federal judiciary. He also helped establish the National Center for State Courts and the Supreme Court Historical Society. Burger remained on the court until his retirement in 1986, when he became Chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. He was succeeded as chief justice by William H. Rehnquist, who had served as an associate justice since 1971. In 1974, Burger wrote for a unanimous court in United States v. Nixon, which rejected Nixon's invocation of executive privilege in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The ruling played a major role in Nixon's resignation. Burger joined the majority in Roe v. Wade in holding that the right to privacy prohibited states from banning abortions. He later abandoned Roe v. Wade in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His majority opinion in INS v. Chadha struck down the one-house legislative veto. Although Burger was perceived as a conservative, and the Burger Court delivered numerous conservative decisions, the Burger Court also delivered some liberal decisions regarding abortion, capital punishment, religious establishment, and school desegregation during his tenure.