Earl Warren (March 19, 1891–July 9, 1974) was a California district attorney and 30th Governor of California, but is best known as the 14th Chief Justice of the United States from 1953-1969. His term of office was marked by numerous rulings affecting among other things, the legal status of racial segregation, civil rights, separation of church and state, and police arrest procedure in the United States.
He was born in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in Bakersfield, California, and attended the University of California, Berkeley both as an undergraduate and for law school. Warren then worked for five years for private law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. He went to work for San Francisco County in 1920 and in 1925 was appointed as District Attorney of Alameda County when the incumbent resigned. He was re-elected to 3 four-year terms. As a tough-on-crime District Attorney, Warren had a reputation for high-handedness, however, none of his convictions was ever overturned on appeal.
Warren became a well-known figure in California and was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of California while district attorney. In 1939, he became Attorney General of the State of California. He ran for governor of California in 1942 as a Republican and was elected. California law at the time allowed individuals to run in any primary elections they chose. In 1946, Warren managed the singular feat of winning the Republican, Democratic and Progressive primary elections and thus ran unopposed in the 1946 general election. He was elected to a third term (as a Republican) in 1950.
Warren's state service was marred by his support for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But it was also marked by laying the infrastructure to support a two-decade boom that lasted from the end of World War II until the mid 1960s. In particular, Warren and UC President Clark Kerr presided over construction of a renowned public university system that provided inexpensive, high quality education to two generations of Californians.
Warren ran for Vice President of the United States in 1948 on a ticket with Thomas Dewey. They lost narrowly to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley.
In 1953, Warren was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by Dwight D. Eisenhower. To the surprise of many, Warren was a much more liberal justice than had been anticipated. He was able to craft a long series of unanimous decisions including Brown v. Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954), which overthrew the segregation of public schools; "One man one vote", which dramatically altered the relative power of rural regions in many states; and Miranda from the case Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966), which required that certain rights of a person being interrogated while in police custody be clearly explained, including the right to an attorney. Warren retired from the court in 1969.
Warren headed the Warren Commission that theorized that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the act of a single individual acting alone. (3 of the 7 Warren Commission commissioners did not agree with the magic bullet theory)
Warren died in Washington, DC. The Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project is named in his honor.