Chief Justice Earl Warren: Biography & Court Cases

Instructor: Earl Crowe

Earl has over 20 years of lecturing experience and has a master's degree in criminal justice.

This lesson will focus on the life of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. It will take you from his birth to his death and beyond. This lesson will also take an in-depth look at several historical court cases involving Chief Justice Warren.


Earl Warren is most widely known as the 14th Supreme Court Chief Justice. The position of Chief Justice is the highest ranking position on the Supreme Court. Each justice's vote counts the same as the next, but the Chief Justice is comparable to a chairman of the board of a company. Before Earl Warren joined the Supreme Court, he was a son, brother, student, soldier, and civil rights warrior.


Chief Justice Earl Warren
Chief Justice Earl Warren

Throughout his time on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren was involved in a number of nation-changing decisions. In 1969, he retired from the U.S. Supreme Court. At the age of 83, Earl Warren died, on July 9, 1974. Seven years after his death, Earl Warren was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.

Before the Supreme Court

Earl Warren graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in legal studies in 1912. Upon graduating from U.C. Berkeley, he attended the Boalt Hall Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1914. During the same year, he was admitted to the California State Bar.

Earl Warren was an Army soldier during World War I, and was discharged as a first lieutenant. In 1920, he became the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Oakland. Five years later, he became the Alameda County District Attorney.

Thirteen years later, in 1938, Earl Warren was elected as the Attorney General of California. Beating a Democratic incumbent, he was elected the Governor of California in 1942. During 1948, Earl Warren accepted the Republican Vice Presidential nomination alongside Presidential candidate Thomas Dewey, but they lost to President Harry S. Truman.

Earl Warren contemplated running for President in 1952, but was convinced to back Eisenhower, who went on to win the election. Supposedly, he was promised the next seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. No one had any idea that the seat he would take would be that of the Chief Justice in 1953.

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