Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Earl

Earl Warren

Born this day in 1891 in Los Angeles, Earl Warren, one of our greatest Chief Justices. In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed him, expecting a conservative; Eisenhower later called the appointment "the biggest damn-fool mistake I ever made." But the country is much the better for it.

Warren led the Supreme Court to many landmark decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which banned segregation in public schools; Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which ruled that poor people are entitled to a free lawyer in all criminal cases; Miranda v. Arizona (1966), which required that a person being arrested be read his or her rights; and Loving v. Virginia (1967), which made interracial marriage legal across the country.

Although he died in 1974, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 by President Carter.

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