Douglas, William O. (1898–1980)

Justice William O. Douglas holds the record for service on the U.S. Supreme Court, 36 years and 7 months, longer than any other justice in Court history. During his career, he gained a reputation as one of the Court's leading defenders of civil liberties. However, by many accounts, Douglas was harsh on his clerks and difficult to work with, and he led a notorious personal life. His life, career, and contributions to the Court are reviewed in this entry.

Early Years

Douglas was born in Minnesota in 1898, but for most of his early years, he lived near Yakima, Washington. His father died when Douglas was only 6 years old, and as a child Douglas had to overcome illness and poverty. He suffered from polio, and for ...

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