William Orville Douglas (October 16, 1898 – January 19, 1980) was an American jurist and politician who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas was confirmed at the age of 40, one of the youngest justices appointed to the court. His term, lasting 36 years and 211 days (1939–75), is the longest in the history of the Supreme Court. In 1975 Time magazine called Douglas "the most doctrinaire and committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court".
After an itinerant childhood, Douglas attended Whitman College on a scholarship. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1925 and joined the Yale Law School faculty. After serving as the third chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Douglas was successfully nominated to the Supreme Court, succeeding Justice Louis Brandeis. He was among those seriously considered for the 1944 Democratic vice presidential nomination and was subject to an unsuccessful draft movement prior to the 1948 presidential election. Douglas served on the Court until his retirement in 1975, and was succeeded by John Paul Stevens. Douglas holds a number of records as a Supreme Court Justice, including the most opinions.
Douglas wrote the Court's majority opinion in major cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., Brady v. Maryland, and Terminiello v. City of Chicago. He wrote notable concurring or dissenting opinions in cases such as Dennis v. United States, Brandenburg v. Ohio, and Terry v. Ohio. He was also known as a strong opponent of the Vietnam War and an ardent advocate of environmentalism.
William O. Douglas
|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States|
April 15, 1939 – November 12, 1975
|Nominated by||Franklin Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Louis Brandeis|
|Succeeded by||John Paul Stevens|
|3rd Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission|
August 17, 1937 – April 15, 1939
|Preceded by||James Landis|
|Succeeded by||Jerome Frank|
William Orville Douglas
October 16, 1898
Maine Township, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||January 19, 1980 (aged 81)|
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
|Education||Whitman College (BA)|
Columbia University (LLB)
Douglas was born in 1898 in Maine Township, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, the son of Julia Bickford (Fisk) and William Douglas, an itinerant Scottish Presbyterian minister from Pictou County, Nova Scotia. His family moved to California, and then to Cleveland, Washington. At age two Douglas suffered an illness he described as polio, but which revisionist biographers have claimed was intestinal colic. His mother attributed his recovery to a miracle, telling Douglas that one day he would be President of the United States.
His father died in Portland, Oregon, in 1904, when Douglas was six years old. Douglas later claimed his mother had been left destitute. After moving the family from town to town in the West, his mother, with three young children, settled with them in Yakima, Washington. William, like the rest of the Douglas family, worked at odd jobs to earn extra money, and a college education appeared to be unaffordable. He was the valedictorian at Yakima High School and did well enough in school to earn a full academic scholarship to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
While at Whitman, Douglas became a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He worked at various jobs while attending school, including as a waiter and janitor during the school year, and at a cherry orchard in the summer. Picking cherries, Douglas would say later, inspired him to a legal career. He once said of his early interest in the law:
I worked among the very, very poor, the migrant laborers, the Chicanos and the I.W.W's who I saw being shot at by the police. I saw cruelty and hardness, and my impulse was to be a force in other developments in the law.
Douglas was elected Phi Beta Kappa, participated on the debate team, and was elected as student body president in his final year. After graduating in 1920 with a B.A. in English and economics, he taught English and Latin at Yakima high schools for the next two years, hoping to earn enough to attend law school. "Finally," he said, "I decided it was impossible to save enough money by teaching and I said to hell with it."
He traveled to New York (taking a job tending sheep on a Chicago-bound train, in return for free passage), with hopes to attend the Columbia Law School. Douglas drew on his Beta Theta Pi membership to help him survive in New York, as he stayed at one of its houses and was able to borrow $75 from a fraternity brother from Washington, enough to enroll at Columbia.
Six months later, Douglas' funds were running out. The appointments office at the law school told him that a New York firm wanted a student to help prepare a correspondence course for law. Douglas earned $600 for his work, enabling him to stay in school. Hired for similar projects, he saved $1,000 by semester's end. His wife Mildred worked as a schoolteacher to support him throughout law school, which he would later conceal by lying about which year they were married. Douglas graduated second in his class at Columbia in 1925.
In August 1923, Douglas traveled to La Grande, Oregon, to marry Mildred Riddle, whom he had known in Yakima. After their return to New York, he started work at the firm of Cravath, DeGersdorff, Swaine and Wood (later Cravath, Swaine & Moore) after failing to obtain a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Harlan F. Stone.
Douglas quit the Cravath firm after four months. After one year, he moved back to Yakima, but soon regretted the move and never practiced law in the state. After a time of unemployment and another months-long stint at Cravath, he started teaching at Columbia Law School.
Douglas later joined the faculty of Yale Law School. There he became an expert on commercial litigation and bankruptcy, and was identified with the legal realist movement. This pushed for an understanding of law based less on formalistic legal doctrines and more on the real-world effects of the law. While teaching at Yale, he and fellow professor Thurman Arnold were riding the New Haven Railroad and were inspired to set the sign Passengers will please refrain ... to Antonín Dvořák's Humoresque #7. Robert Maynard Hutchins described Douglas as "the most outstanding law professor in the nation". When Hutchins became president of the University of Chicago, Douglas accepted an offer to move there, which he backed out of once he was made a Sterling Professor at Yale.
In 1934, Douglas left Yale to join the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a political appointee position, having been nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. By 1937, he had become an adviser and friend to the President and the SEC chairman.
During this time, Douglas became friends with a group of young New Dealers, including Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran and Abe Fortas. He was also close, socially and in thinking, with the Progressives of the era, such as Philip and Robert La Follette, Jr., and later with President Kennedy. This social/political group befriended Lyndon Baines Johnson, a freshman Congressman from the 10th District of Texas. In his book The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Robert Caro writes that in 1937, Douglas helped persuade President Roosevelt to authorize the Marshall Ford Dam, a controversial project whose approval enabled Johnson to consolidate his power as a congressman.
In 1939, Justice Louis D. Brandeis retired from the Court, and Roosevelt nominated Douglas as his replacement on March 20. Douglas was Justice Brandeis's personal choice for a successor. Douglas later revealed that his appointment had been a great surprise to him—Roosevelt had summoned him to an "important meeting," and Douglas feared that he was to be named as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 4 by a vote of 62 to 4. The four negative votes were all cast by Republicans: Lynn J. Frazier, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., Gerald P. Nye, and Clyde M. Reed. Douglas was sworn into office on April 17, 1939. At the age of forty, Douglas was one of the youngest justices to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Douglas was often at odds with fellow Justice Felix Frankfurter, who believed in judicial restraint and thought the court should stay out of politics. Douglas did not highly value judicial consistency or stare decisis when deciding cases.
Judge Richard A. Posner, who was a law clerk at the Court during the latter part of Douglas's tenure, characterized him as "a bored, distracted, uncollegial, irresponsible" Supreme Court justice, as well as "rude, ice-cold, hot-tempered, ungrateful, foul-mouthed, self-absorbed" and so abusive in "treatment of his staff to the point where his law clerks—whom he described as 'the lowest form of human life'—took to calling him "shithead" behind his back." Posner asserts also that "Douglas's judicial oeuvre is slipshod and slapdash", but yet, Douglas's "intelligence, his energy, his academic and government experience, his flair for writing, the leadership skills that he had displayed at the SEC, and his ability to charm when he bothered to try" could have let him "become the greatest justice in history."
In general, legal scholars have noted that Douglas's judicial style was unusual in that he did not attempt to elaborate justifications for his judicial positions on the basis of text, history, or precedent. Douglas was known for writing short, pithy opinions which relied on philosophical insights, observations about current politics, and literature, as much as more conventional "judicial" sources. Douglas wrote many of his opinions in twenty minutes, often publishing the first draft. Douglas was also known for his fearsome work ethic, publishing over thirty books and once telling an exhausted secretary (Fay Aull) "If you hadn't stopped working, you wouldn't be tired".
Douglas frequently disagreed with the other justices, dissenting in almost 40% of cases, more than half of the time writing only for himself. Ronald Dworkin would conclude that because Douglas believed his convictions were merely "a matter of his own emotional biases", Douglas would fail to meet "minimal intellectual responsibilities". Ultimately, Douglas believed that a judge's role was "not neutral." "The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people ... "
On the bench, Douglas became known as a strong advocate of First Amendment rights. With fellow Justice Hugo Black, Douglas argued for a "literalist" interpretation of the First Amendment, insisting that the First Amendment's command that "no law" shall restrict freedom of speech should be interpreted literally. He wrote the opinion in Terminiello v. City of Chicago (1949), overturning the conviction of a Catholic priest who allegedly caused a "breach of the peace" by making anti-Semitic comments during a raucous public speech. Douglas, joined by Black, furthered his advocacy of a broad reading of First Amendment rights by dissenting from the Supreme Court's decision in Dennis v. United States (1952), affirming the conviction of the leader of the U.S. Communist Party.
In 1944, Douglas voted with the majority to uphold the wartime internment of Japanese Americans, in Korematsu v. United States but, over the course of his career, he grew to become a leading advocate of individual rights. Suspicious of majority rule as it related to social and moral questions, he frequently expressed concern in his opinions at forced conformity with "the Establishment". For example, Douglas wrote the Opinion of the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), explaining that a constitutional right to privacy forbid state contraception bans because "specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance." This went too far for his old ally Black, who dissented in Griswold. Justice Clarence Thomas would years later hang a sign in his chambers reading "Please don't emanate in the penumbras".
Douglas and Black also disagreed in Fortson v. Morris (1967), which cleared the path for the Georgia State Legislature to choose the governor in the deadlocked 1966 race between Democrat Lester Maddox and Republican Howard Callaway. Whereas Black voted with the majority under strict construction to uphold the state constitutional provision, Douglas and Abe Fortas dissented. According to Douglas, Georgia tradition would guarantee a Maddox victory but he had trailed Callaway by some 3,000 votes in the general election returns. Douglas also saw the issue as a continuation of the earlier decision Gray v. Sanders, which had struck down Georgia's County Unit System, a kind of electoral college formerly used to choose the governor.
On June 17, 1953, Douglas granted a temporary stay of execution to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who had been convicted of selling the plans for the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The basis for the stay was that the Rosenbergs had been sentenced to die by Judge Irving Kaufman without the consent of the jury. While this was permissible under the Espionage Act of 1917, under which the Rosenbergs were tried, a later law, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, held that only the jury could pronounce the death penalty. Since at the time the stay was granted the Supreme Court was out of session, this stay meant that the Rosenbergs could expect to wait at least six months before the case was heard.
When Attorney General Herbert Brownell heard about the stay, however, he immediately took his objection to Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, who reconvened the Court before the appointed date and set aside the stay. Douglas had departed for vacation, but on learning of the special session of the Court, he returned to Washington.:pp 324–325 Because of widespread opposition to his decision, Douglas briefly faced impeachment proceedings in Congress, but attempts to remove him from the Court went nowhere.
Justice Douglas took strong positions on the Vietnam War. In 1952 Douglas traveled to Vietnam and met with Ho Chi Minh. During the trip Douglas became friendly with Ngo Dinh Diem and in 1953 he personally introduced the nationalist leader to Senators Mike Mansfield and John F. Kennedy. Douglas became one of the chief promoters for U.S. support of Diem, with CIA Deputy Director Robert Amory crediting Diem becoming "our man in Indochina" to a conversation with Douglas during a party at Martin Agronsky's house.
After Diem's assassination in November 1963, Douglas became strongly critical of the war, believing Diem had been killed because he "was not sufficiently servile to Pentagon demands." Douglas now outspokenly argued the war was illegal, dissenting whenever the Court passed on an opportunity to hear such claims. In 1968 Douglas issued an order blocking the shipment of Army reservists to Vietnam, before the eight other justices unanimously reversed him.
In Schlesinger v. Holtzman (1973) Justice Thurgood Marshall issued an in-chambers opinion declining a Congresswoman's request for a court order stopping the military from bombing Cambodia. The Court was in recess for the summer but the Congresswoman reapplied, this time to Douglas. Justice Douglas met with the Congresswoman's ACLU lawyers at his home in Goose Prairie, Washington and promised them a hearing the next day. On Friday, August 3, 1973, Douglas held a hearing in the Yakima federal courthouse, where he dismissed the Government's argument that he was causing a "constitutional confrontation" by saying, "we live in a world of confrontations. That's what the whole system is about." On August 4, Douglas ordered the military to stop bombing, reasoning "denial of the application before me would catapult our airmen as well as Cambodian peasants into the death zone."
In his dissenting opinion in the landmark environmental law case, Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972), Justice Douglas argued that "inanimate objects" should have standing to sue in court:
The critical question of "standing" would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature's ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation. This suit would therefore be more properly labeled as Mineral King v. Morton.
Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation sole—a creature of ecclesiastical law—is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases ... So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes—fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.
In his autobiographical Of Men and Mountains (1950), Douglas discusses his close childhood connections with nature. In the 1950s, proposals were made to create a parkway along the path of the C&O Canal, which ran on the Maryland bank parallel to the Potomac River. The Washington Post editorial page supported this action. However, Justice Douglas, who frequently hiked on the Canal towpath, opposed this plan, and challenged reporters to hike the 185 mile length of the Canal with him. Following the hike, the Post changed its stance and advocated preservation of the Canal in its historic state. Douglas is widely credited with saving the Canal and with its eventual designation as a National Historic Park in 1971. He subsequently served on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club from 1960 to 1962 and wrote prolifically on his love of the outdoors. In 1962, Douglas wrote a glowing review of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, which was included in the widely read Book-of-the-Month Club edition. . He later swayed the Supreme Court to preserve the Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky, when a proposal to build a dam and flood the gorge reached the Court. Douglas personally visited the area on November 18, 1967. The Red River Gorge's Douglas Trail is named in his honor.
In May 1962, Douglas and his wife Cathleen were invited by Neil Compton and the Ozark Society to visit and canoe down part of the free-flowing Buffalo River in Arkansas. They put in at the low water bridge at Boxley. This experience made him a fan of the river and the young organization's idea of protecting it. Douglas was instrumental in having the Buffalo preserved as a free-flowing river, left in its natural state. This decision was opposed by the region's Corps of Army Engineers. The act that soon followed designated the Buffalo River as America's first National River. Douglas was a self-professed outdoorsman. According to The Thru-Hiker's Companion, a guide published by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, Douglas hiked the entire 2,000 miles (3,200 km) trail from Georgia to Maine. His love for the environment carried through to his judicial reasoning.
Due to Douglas' active role in advocating the preservation and protection of wilderness across the United States, he was nicknamed "Wild Bill." Douglas was a friend and frequent guest of Harry Randall Truman, owner of the Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake in Washington.
When, in early 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided not to support the renomination of Vice President Henry A. Wallace at the party's national convention, a short list of possible replacements was drafted. The names on the list included former Senator and Supreme Court Justice James F. Byrnes of South Carolina, former Senator (and future Supreme Court justice) Sherman Minton, former Governor and High Commissioner to the Philippines Paul McNutt of Indiana, House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky, Senator Harry S. Truman of Missouri, and Douglas.
Five days before the vice presidential nominee was to be chosen at the convention, on July 15, Committee Chairman Robert E. Hannegan received a letter from Roosevelt stating that his choice for the nominee would be either "Harry Truman or Bill Douglas." After Hannegan released the letter to the convention on July 20, the nomination went without incident, and Truman was nominated on the second ballot. Douglas received two votes on the second ballot and none on the first.
After the convention, Douglas's supporters spread the rumor that the note sent to Hannegan had read "Bill Douglas or Harry Truman," not the other way around. These supporters claimed that Hannegan, a Truman supporter, feared that Douglas's nomination would drive southern white voters away from the ticket (Douglas had a strong anti-segregation record on the Supreme Court) and had switched the names to suggest that Truman was Roosevelt's real choice.
By 1948, Douglas's presidential aspirations were rekindled by Truman's low popularity, after he had succeeded Roosevelt in 1945. Many Democrats, believing that Truman could not be elected in November, began trying to find a replacement candidate. Attempts were made to draft popular retired war hero General Dwight D. Eisenhower for the nomination. A "Draft Douglas" campaign, complete with souvenir buttons and hats, sprang up in New Hampshire and several other primary states. Douglas campaigned for the nomination for a short time, but he soon withdrew his name from consideration.
In the end, Eisenhower refused to be drafted, and Truman won nomination easily. Although Truman approached Douglas about the vice presidential nomination, the Justice turned him down. Douglas's close associate Tommy Corcoran was later heard to ask, "Why be a number two man to a number two man?" Truman selected Senator Alben W. Barkley and the two won the election.
Political opponents made two attempts to remove Douglas from the Supreme Court, both unsuccessful.
On June 17, 1953, Representative William M. Wheeler of Georgia, infuriated by Douglas's brief stay of execution in the Rosenberg case, introduced a resolution to impeach the Justice. The resolution was referred the next day to the Judiciary Committee to investigate the charges. On July 7, 1953 the committee voted to end the investigation.
Justice Douglas maintained a busy speaking and publishing schedule to supplement his income. He became severely burdened financially due to a bitter divorce and settlement with his first wife. He sustained additional financial setbacks after divorces and settlements with his second and third wives.
Douglas became president of the Parvin Foundation. His ties to the foundation (which was financed by the sale of the infamous Flamingo Hotel by casino financier and foundation benefactor Albert Parvin) became a prime target for then-House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford. Besides being personally disgusted by Douglas's lifestyle, Representative Ford was also mindful that Douglas protégé Abe Fortas was forced to resign because of ties to a similar foundation. Fortas would later say that he "resigned to save Douglas," thinking that the dual investigations of himself and Douglas would stop with his resignation.
Some scholars have argued that Ford's impeachment attempt was politically motivated. Those who support this contention note Ford's well-known disappointment with the Senate over the failed nominations of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell to succeed Fortas. In April 1970, Congressman Ford moved to impeach Douglas in an attempt to hit back at the Senate. House Judiciary Chairman Emanuel Celler handled the case carefully and did not uncover evidence of any criminal conduct by Douglas. Attorney General John N. Mitchell and the Nixon administration worked to gather evidence against him. Congressman Ford moved forward with the first major attempt to impeach a Supreme Court Justice in the modern era.
The hearings began in late April 1970. Congressman Ford was the main witness, and attacked Douglas's "liberal opinions"; his "defense of the 'filthy' film," the controversial Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (1970); and his ties to Parvin. Douglas was also criticized for accepting $350 for an article he wrote on folk music in the magazine Avant Garde. The magazine's publisher had served a prison sentence for the distribution of another magazine in 1966 that had been deemed pornographic by some critics. Describing Douglas's article, Ford stated, "The article itself is not pornographic, although it praises the lusty, lurid, and risqué along with the social protest of left-wing folk singers." Ford also attacked Douglas for publishing an article in Evergreen Review, which he claimed was known to publish photographs of naked women. The Republican congressmen, however, refused to give the majority Democrats copies of the magazines described, prompting Congressman Wayne Hays to remark, "Has anybody read the article – or is everybody over there who has a magazine just looking at the pictures?"
As it became clear that the impeachment proceedings would be unsuccessful, they were brought to a close and no public vote on the matter was taken.
Around this time, Douglas came to believe that strangers snooping around his Washington home were FBI agents, attempting to plant marijuana to entrap him. In a private letter to his neighbors, he said: "I wrote you last fall or winter that federal agents were in Yakima and Goose Prairie looking me over at Goose Prairie. I thought they were merely counting fence posts. But I learned in New York City yesterday that they were planting marijuana with the prospect of a nice big TV-covered raid in July or August. I forgot to tell you that this gang in power is not in search of truth. They are 'search and destroy' people."
During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Douglas set a number of records, all of which stand. He sat on the U.S. Supreme Court for more than thirty-six years (1939–75), longer than any other Justice. During those years, he wrote some thirty books in addition to his opinions and dissenting opinions. He gave more speeches than any other Justice, and his record for sidebar productivity is unlikely to be surpassed. Douglas had the most marriages (four) and the most divorces (three) of any Justice serving on the bench.
During his time on the Supreme Court, Douglas picked up a number of nicknames from both admirers and detractors. The most common epithet was "Wild Bill", which was in reference to his independent and often unpredictable stances and cowboy-style mannerisms—although many of the latter were considered by some to be affectations for the consumption of the press.
Since the 1970 impeachment hearings, Douglas had wanted to retire from the court. He wrote to his friend and former student Abe Fortas: "My ideas are way out of line with current trends, and I see no particular point in staying around and being obnoxious".
At age 76 on December 31, 1974, while on vacation with his wife Cathleen in the Bahamas, Douglas suffered a debilitating stroke in the right hemisphere of his brain. It paralyzed his left leg and forced him to use a wheelchair. Douglas, severely disabled, insisted on continuing to participate in Supreme Court affairs despite his obvious incapacity. Seven of his fellow justices voted to postpone until the next term any argued case in which Douglas's vote might make a difference. At the urging of Fortas, Douglas finally retired on November 12, 1975, after 36 years of service. He was the last serving Supreme Court Justice to have been appointed by President Roosevelt.
Douglas's formal resignation was submitted, as required by Federal protocols, to his long-time political nemesis, then-President Gerald Ford. In his response, Ford put aside previous differences, and paid tribute to the retiring justice, writing:
May I express on behalf of all our countrymen this nation's great gratitude for your more than thirty-six years as a member of the Supreme Court. Your distinguished years of service are unequaled in all the history of the Court.
Ford also hosted Justice Douglas and his wife Cathleen as honored guests at a White House state dinner later that same month, writing of the occasion later: "We had had differences in the past, but I wanted to stress that bygones were bygones."
Douglas maintained that he could assume judicial senior status on the Court, and attempted to continue serving in that capacity, according to authors Woodward and Armstrong, and refused to accept his retirement, trying to participate in the Court's cases well into 1976, after John Paul Stevens had taken his former seat. Douglas reacted with outrage when, returning to his old chambers, he discovered that his clerks had been reassigned to Stevens, and when he tried to file opinions in cases whose arguments he had heard before his retirement, Chief Justice Warren Burger ordered all justices, clerks, and other staff members to refuse help to Douglas in those efforts. When Douglas tried in March 1976 to hear arguments in a capital-punishment case, Gregg v. Georgia, the nine sitting justices signed a formal letter informing him that his retirement had ended his official duties on the court. Only then did Douglas withdraw from Supreme Court business. One commentator has attributed some of his behavior after his stroke to anosognosia, a neuropsychological presentation which leads an affected person to be unaware and unable to acknowledge disease in himself. It often results in defects in reasoning, decision making, emotions, and feeling.
Douglas's first wife was Mildred Riddle, a teacher at North Yakima High School six years his senior, whom he married on August 16, 1923. They had two children, Mildred and William Jr. They were divorced on July 20, 1953. Douglas would not hear about Riddle's death in 1969 because his children had stopped talking to him. William Douglas Jr. became an actor, playing Gerald Zinser in PT 109.
On October 2, 1949, Douglas had thirteen of his ribs broken after he was thrown from a horse and tumbled down a rocky hillside. Due to his injuries, Douglas did not return to the court until March 1950, or take part in many of that term's cases. Four months after his return to the court, Douglas had to be hospitalized again due to his being kicked by a horse.
While still married to Riddle, Douglas began openly pursuing Mercedes Hester Davidson in 1951. Other justices at the time kept mistresses as secretaries or kept them away from the Court building according to Douglas's messenger Harry Datcher, but Douglas "did what he did in the open. He didn't give a damn what people thought of him." He divorced Riddle in 1953. Douglas's former friend Thomas Gardiner Corcoran represented Riddle in the divorce, securing alimony with an "escalator clause" that financially motivated Douglas to publish more books. Douglas married Davidson on December 14, 1954.
In 1961, Douglas pursued Joan "Joanie" Martin, an Allegheny College student writing her thesis on him. In the summer of 1963, he divorced Davidson; later that year, at the age of 64, Douglas married 23-year-old Martin on August 5, 1963. Douglas and Martin divorced in 1966.
On July 15, 1966, Douglas married Cathleen Heffernan, then a 22-year-old student at Marylhurst College. They met when he was vacationing at Mount St. Helens Lodge, a mountain wilderness lodge in Washington state at Spirit Lake, where she was working for the summer as a waitress,. Though their age difference was a subject of national controversy at the time of their marriage, they remained together until his death in 1980.
For much of his life, Douglas was dogged by various rumors and allegations about his private life, originating from political rivals and other detractors of his liberal legal opinions on the Court—often a matter of controversy. In one such instance in 1966, Republican Rep. Bob Dole of Kansas attributed his court decisions to his "bad judgment from a matrimonial standpoint", and several other Republican Members of Congress introduced resolutions in the House of Representatives, though none ever passed, that called for investigation of Douglas's moral character.
Four years after retiring from the Supreme Court, William O. Douglas died at age 81 on January 19, 1980, at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC. He was survived by his fourth wife, Cathleen Douglas, and two children, Mildred and William Jr., with his first wife.
Douglas is interred in Section 5 of Arlington National Cemetery near the graves of eight other former Supreme Court Justices: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Warren E. Burger, William Rehnquist, Hugo Black, Potter Stewart, William J. Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun. Throughout his life Douglas claimed he had been a U.S. Army private, which was inscribed on his headstone. Some historians, including biographer Bruce Murphy, asserted that this claim was false, although Murphy later added, according to Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane, that Douglas's "career on the court makes it 'appropriate' " that he be buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Lane engaged in further research — consulting applicable provisions of the relevant federal statutes, locating Douglas's honorable discharge and speaking with Arlington Cemetery staff. Records in the Library of Congress showed that from June to December 1918, Douglas served as (what the War Department's regulations termed) "a soldier in the Army of the United States ... placed upon active-duty status immediately." Tom Sherlock, Arlington's official historian, told Lane that an "active-duty recruit whose service was limited to boot camp [at which Douglas served] would qualify" to be buried in Arlington. Lane therefore concluded, "Legally, then, Douglas may have had a plausible claim to be a 'Private, U.S. Army,' as his headstone at Arlington reads."
Mountain-The Journey of Justice Douglas is a play written by Douglas Scott which explores the life of William O. Douglas. Produced in 1990 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY. 
The papers of William O. Douglas from his career as professor of law, Securities and Exchange commissioner, and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court were bequeathed by him to the Library of Congress.
| Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
| Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
John Paul Stevens
This article lists those who were potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for Vice President of the United States in the 1948 election. At the 1948 Democratic National Convention, President Harry S. Truman won nomination to a full term. Truman had become president upon the death of his predecessor and 1944 running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt. As the 25th Amendment had not yet been passed, there was no method for filling a vice presidential vacancy, and Truman served without a vice president during his first term. Truman's nomination faced significant opposition from the South, as did the party's platform on civil rights. Though Truman attempted to convince Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to join the ticket, Douglas declined. Truman instead selected Senate Minority Leader Alben W. Barkley, the preferred choice of many Democratic delegates, and a border state Senator who could appeal to both the Northern and Southern wings of the party. The Truman-Barkley ticket won the 1948 election, defeating the Republican (Dewey-Warren), Progressive (Wallace-Taylor), and Dixiecrat (Thurmond-Wright) tickets.Cornell Law Review
The Cornell Law Review is the flagship legal journal of Cornell Law School. Originally published in 1915 as the Cornell Law Quarterly, the journal features scholarship in all fields of law. Notably, past issues of the Cornell Law Review have included articles by Supreme Court justices Robert H. Jackson, John Marshall Harlan II, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Cornell Law Review ranks 7th among law journals in impact and influence according to Google Scholar Metrics.Dewey Peak
Dewey Peak is a 6,710 feet (2,050 m) summit located on the shared border of Mount Rainier National Park and William O. Douglas Wilderness. It is also on the shared border of Pierce County and Yakima County in Washington state. Dewey Peak is situated on the crest of the Cascade Range southeast of Chinook Pass, east of Seymour Peak, and northeast of Shriner Peak. Its nearest higher peak is Chinook Peak, 3.97 mi (6.39 km) to the north. Dewey Peak is named for Dewey Lake which is set below its north aspect. Precipitation runoff from Dewey Peak drains into tributaries of the Cowlitz River and Yakima River.Franklin D. Roosevelt Supreme Court candidates
During his twelve years in office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed eight new members of the Supreme Court of the United States: Associate Justices Hugo Black, Stanley F. Reed, Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, James F. Byrnes, Robert H. Jackson, and Wiley Blount Rutledge. Additionally, he elevated sitting Justice Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice. Roosevelt's nine nominations filled eight seats on the Supreme Court because Associate Justice Byrnes resigned while Roosevelt was still in office. Roosevelt nominated Rutledge to the seat vacated by Byrnes.Gerald Ford Supreme Court candidates
During his time in office, President Gerald Ford made one appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. Ford nominated John Paul Stevens to replace Associate Justice William O. Douglas, whom Ford had unsuccessfully attempted to initiate impeachment proceedings against as a congressman.
In December 1974, the 76-year-old Douglas suffered a stroke while vacationing in Nassau, Bahamas that paralyzed his left arm and leg. Douglas was discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in March 1975, and was in and out of the hospital for the remainder of the 1974-1975 term. Although Chief Justice Warren E. Burger urged Douglas to retire, Douglas showed no intention of doing so. However, Douglas' condition continued to deteriorate, and on October 28, 1975, his doctors told him his condition would never improve and that he would be paralyzed and in near-constant pain for the rest of his life. On November 12, 1975, Douglas announced that he would immediately retire and assume senior status. On November 28, 1975, Ford nominated John Paul Stevens to replace Douglas. Stevens was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1975.Goose Prairie, Washington
Goose Prairie is an unincorporated community in Yakima County, Washington, United States. Goose Prairie is 41 miles (66 km) northwest of Yakima. It was founded by Tom Fife in 1886 who named it after a goose that visited the meadow one evening and stayed the night.Fife donated a portion of his homestead to the Boy Scouts; the Grand Columbia council operates Camp Fife, a summer camp named in Fife's honor.
Besides the camp the meadow contains a number of cabins and a diner only open on summer holiday weekends.Goose Prairie was the summer home of the 20th century United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Eric Sevareid interviewed Douglas in Goose Prairie for the CBS Reports documentary Mr. Justice Douglas broadcast Sept. 6, 1972. The Yakima Valley Museum has a 16mm film of the program in its collection which can be viewed online.It is also where Kay Kershaw and Isabelle Lynn operated the Double K Mountain Ranch; they played a key role in the designation of the nearby William O. Douglas Wilderness area.Kois v. Wisconsin
Kois v. Wisconsin, 408 U.S. 229 (1972), was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of the obscenity conviction of Milwaukee editor-publisher John Kois, whose underground newspaper Kaleidoscope had published two small photographs of pictures of nudes and a sexually-oriented poem entitled "Sex Poem" in 1968. The Supreme Court ruled that, in the context in which they appeared, the photographs were rationally related to a news article which they illustrated and were thus entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection, and that the poem "bears some of the earmarks of an attempt at serious art" (whether successful or not), and thus was not obscene under the Roth v. United States test ("whether or not the 'dominant' theme of the material appeals to prurient interest"). In the words of the concurring opinion of Justice William O. Douglas, "In this case, the vague umbrella of obscenity laws was used in an attempt to run a radical newspaper out of business and to impose a two-year sentence and a $2,000 fine upon its publisher. If obscenity laws continue in this uneven and uncertain enforcement, then the vehicle has been found for the suppression of any unpopular tract. The guarantee of free expression will thus be diluted and in its stead public discourse will only embrace that which has the approval of five members of this Court."As alluded to in Justice Douglas' opinion, by this time Kaleidoscope had already been driven out of business.List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States
Law clerks have assisted the justices of the United States Supreme Court in various capacities since the first one was hired by Justice Horace Gray in 1882. Each justice is permitted to have between three and four law clerks per Court term. Most persons serving in this capacity are recent law school graduates (and typically graduated at the top of their class). Among their many functions, clerks do legal research that assists justices in deciding what cases to accept and what questions to ask during oral arguments, prepare memoranda, and draft orders and opinions. Research suggests that clerks exert a moderate influence on how justices vote in cases, but have "substantial influence in cases that are high-profile, legally significant, or close decisions."The following list articles cover the law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Chief Justice)Clerks for chief justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 1)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 2)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 3)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 4)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 6)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 8)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 9)Clerks for associate justices:
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 10)Clerks for associate justices:
Note that, due to the several changes in the size of the Court since it was established in 1789, two seats have been abolished, both as a result of the Judicial Circuits Act of 1866 (and before the Court established the practice of hiring law clerks). Consequently, neither "seat 5" nor "seat 7" have a list article. Also, the seat numbers in these articles are not derived from official United States federal government sources, but are used as a way of organizing and detailing the succession of justices over the years since the first set of justices were confirmed by the United States Senate.Norse Peak Wilderness
Norse Peak Wilderness is a 52,315-acre (21,171 ha) designated wilderness area located in central Washington in the United States. It protects the portion of the Cascade Range north of Chinook Pass (Highway 410), south of Naches Pass (Naches Trail), and east of Mount Rainier National Park. It is bordered by the William O. Douglas Wilderness to the south. The wilderness is named for a prominent peak which overlooks Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Roughly triangular, it is about 10 miles (16 km) across and contains no roads.Northwestern University Law Review
The Northwestern University Law Review is a scholarly legal publication and student organization at Northwestern University School of Law. The Law Review's primary purpose is to publish a journal of broad legal scholarship. The Law Review publishes six issues each year. Student editors make the editorial and organizational decisions and select articles submitted by professors, judges, and practitioners, as well as student pieces. The Law Review recently extended its presence onto the web, and now regularly publishes scholarly pieces on Northwestern University Law Review Online.First published in 1906 as the Illinois Law Review, the Law Review has been staffed and managed by numerous individuals who went on to become well-known legal scholars and practitioners. Prior Editors in Chief include: Roscoe Pound, long-time dean of Harvard Law School; Justice John Paul Stevens; Governor Daniel Walker; and Newton N. Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Other editorial officers have included Justice Arthur Goldberg and Adlai Stevenson.Selected notable contributors to the Law Review include Dean Leon Green, Sir William Holdsworth, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Albert M. Kales, Nathan William MacChesney, Charles T. McCormick, Sir Frederick Pollock, Dean Roscoe Pound, Dean John Henry Wigmore, Justice Felix Frankfurter, Justice Tom Clark, Justice William O. Douglas, Justice Abe Fortas, Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards, Erwin Griswold, Archibald Cox, Paul Freund, W. Willard Wirtz, Albert Ehrenzweig, H. L. A. Hart, Gerald Gunther, Edward H. Levi, Hubert Humphrey, Brunson MacChesney, Nathaniel Nathanson, Dean James A. Rahl, Dean (now professor) David Ruder, Martin Redish, Kenneth Culp Davis, Raoul Berger, Bernard Schwartz, Ian Macneil, John C. Coffee, Gary Lawson, Mary Kay Becker, Stephen Schulhofer, Nadine Strossen, Judge José A. Cabranes, Judge Richard Posner, Cass Sunstein, and Todd Zywicki.Beyond the Law Review's traditional legal scholarship, it has published contributions from noted philosopher F. S. C. Northrop, the Right Reverend James A. Pike, Erle Stanley Gardner, and J. Edgar Hoover.In addition to individual contributions, the Law Review has a history of special symposium issues on a broad range of topics. Recent symposium issues have included: Throwing Away the Key: Social and Legal Responses to Child Molesters (Summer 1997); Free Speech and Economic Power (Summer 1998); Empirical Legal Realism (Summer 2003); Constitutional Law and the Internet (Summer 2004); and the Centennial Symposium Issue (Fall 2005).Romanian judicial reform
Recent decades have seen a surge in the birth of "supraterritorial institutions and associations", that have been gathered by their enactment of common law and practices. European Union's regional expansion into Southeastern Europe to include Romania is one such example. The community of European states has enacted treaties that have allowed them to unite politically and economically.
Since the onset of the Treaty of Accession 2005 between Romania and the EU, judicial reform has been one of the major efforts undertaken by the Romanian government. Whereas the EU has a standardized set of institutional policies, Romania has yet to implement all of the necessary political reforms which will aid the process of judicial cooperation between Romania and EU member states, and also help Romania combat widespread corruption.
The judicial institutions and policies of EU member states are consolidated under the principle of Union Law. William O. Douglas wrote in his book "The Anatomy of Liberty" that "Equal protection under the law is the most important single principle that any nation can take as its ideal. Those who practice it have a strength and unity that other nations lack. A sense of belonging is perhaps the most important community attitude a people can have".Composed of a unique legal framework, the concept of Union Law is created by the Treaties of the European Union, which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is decisively empowered to rule over. Nevertheless, the national court systems of member states are the essential legal autonomous bodies which are primarily responsible for implementing the principles of Union Law. Accordingly, member states are responsible for generating a transparent judicial system that is able to rule efficiently under provisions of Union Law. For this to occur, the judicial system of each member state must meet EU criteria and be organized in a fashion that corresponds with EU policies. Thus it becomes clear that ECJ is only a form of reference for the court systems of member states, and a line of last resort.Screws v. United States
Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91 (1945), also known as the Screws precedent, was a 1945 Supreme Court case that made it difficult for the federal government to bring prosecutions when local government officials killed African-Americans in an extra-judicial manner.
Claude Screws, the sheriff of Baker County, Georgia, arrested Robert "Bobby" Hall, an African American, on January 29, 1943. Hall had allegedly stolen a tire, and was alleged to have tried to fight back against Screws and two of his deputies during the arrest. Hall was arrested at his home. Screws then beat Hall to death.
The local U.S. attorney then convened a grand jury which indicted Screws on charges of violating Hall's civil rights. Screws was then convicted at the federal court house in Albany, Georgia. The conviction was upheld by the Circuit Court and then appealed to the Supreme Court. While the case was moving through the courts Screws was reelected as sheriff by a very wide margin.
The Supreme Court, in a decision authored by William O. Douglas, ruled that the federal government had not shown that Screws had the intention of violating Hall's civil rights when he killed him. This ruling greatly reduced the frequency with which federal civil rights cases were brought over the next few years.Selah Gap
Selah Gap is a water gap carved by the Yakima River through the Yakima Ridge basalt formation between Yakima, Washington and Selah, Washington. The gap is traversed by BNSF Railway, Interstate 82, and Washington State Route 823. The Yakima Greenway trail for non motorized users also crosses the Yakima River at Selah Gap on an 1884 railroad bridge. The William O. Douglas Trail, named for William O. Douglas who hiked there from his home in Yakima, also crosses the gap and ascends the ridge on its way to Mount Rainier.United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (in case citations, E.D. Wash.) is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties of the state of Washington: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima.
As of the 2000 census, 1.3 million people resided in the Eastern District, representing 22% of the state's population. The district includes the cities of Richland, Spokane, and Yakima, among others. The Federal Court in Yakima is located in the William O. Douglas Federal Building.
Cases from the Eastern District of Washington are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Washington represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court.
On January 5, 2018, pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Joseph H. Harrington to the office of United States Attorney pro tem for the Eastern District of Washington. On May 4, 2018, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington confirmed this appointment on a permanent basis.United States v. Nixon
United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a unanimous decision against President Richard Nixon, ordering him to deliver tape recordings and other subpoenaed materials to a federal district court. Issued on July 24, 1974, the decision was important to the late stages of the Watergate scandal, when there was an ongoing impeachment process against Richard Nixon. United States v. Nixon is considered a crucial precedent limiting the power of any U.S. president to claim executive privilege.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote the opinion for a unanimous court, joined by Justices William O. Douglas, William J. Brennan, Potter Stewart, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun and Lewis F. Powell. Burger, Blackmun, and Powell were appointed to the Court by Nixon during his first term. Associate Justice William Rehnquist recused himself as he had previously served in the Nixon administration as an Assistant Attorney General.Vinson Court
The Vinson Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1946 to 1953, when Fred Vinson served as Chief Justice of the United States. Vinson succeeded Harlan F. Stone as Chief Justice after the latter's death, and Vinson served as Chief Justice until his death, at which point Earl Warren was nominated and confirmed to succeed Vinson.
The court presided over the country during the start of the Cold War and the Korean War. The court's decisions reflected the continuing ideological battle between the judicial restraint of Justice Felix Frankfurter and the civil rights activism of Justices William O. Douglas and Hugo Black. Frankfurter's more conservative views prevailed during the Vinson Court, but many of the dissents written during the Vinson Court would lay the groundwork for the major rulings during the succeeding Warren Court.William O. Douglas Federal Building
The William O. Douglas Federal Building is a historic post office, courthouse, and federal office building located at Yakima in Yakima County, Washington. It is a courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Renamed in 1978, it was previously known as U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, and is listed under that name in the National Register of Historic Places.William O. Douglas Prize
The William O. Douglas Prize (also known as the William O. Douglas Award) is given by the Commission on Freedom of Expression of the Speech Communication Association to honor those who contribute to writing about freedom of speech. The Award is named after William O. Douglas, who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1939 to 1975.William O. Douglas Wilderness
The William O. Douglas Wilderness is a designated wilderness in Central Washington. It includes 169,081 acres (68,425 ha) located between the U.S. Route 12 and State Route 410 and is jointly administered by the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It shares a boundary with the Mt. Rainier National Park on the west; Norse Peak Wilderness lies to the north, Goat Rocks Wilderness to the south. Approximately 25 miles (40 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail travel along the Cascade Range crest within its boundaries. It contains scattered peaks, sharp ridges, steep slopes and hundreds of small lakes and potholes. Much of the wilderness is drained by tributaries of the Naches River.
Chairmen of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission