Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 24

On July 24, 1997, William J. Brennan, Jr., a liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice, died in Washington, DC. A Newark, New Jersey native, Brennan's father had been active in the organized labor movement, and before becoming a Justice, Brennan was a lawyer for organized labor. Brennan served on the 1960s' liberal Warren court alongside Justice Marshall, the first African American Justice on the Supreme Court, a former NAACP lawyer, and also a staunch liberal. Brennan then served on the increasingly conservative Burger and Rehnquist courts, during which he valiantly represented the liberal position in dissenting opinions for many years. These dissenting opinions could help pave the way for judicial approaches to individual rights in the state courts, to govern individual rights matters in which state constitutions are allowed to give better protection against the actions of a state government than federal law requires. Brennan served as a Justice for about 34 years, from October 16, 1956 – July 20, 1990, and died at the age of 91.