SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

William O. Douglas, 1939-1975

Justice William O. Douglas, 1939-1975
WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS was born in Maine, Minnesota, on October 16, 1898, and raised in Yakima, Washington. He entered Whitman College in 1916, but his studies were interrupted by military service in World War I. Douglas was graduated from Whitman in 1920 and taught school for two years before attending law school at Columbia University. Upon graduation in 1925, he joined a New York law firm, but left two years later to spend one year in Yakima. He subsequently returned to teach law at Columbia University, and transferred to the faculty of Yale University in 1929. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Douglas to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in 1937 he became Chairman. President Roosevelt nominated Douglas to the Supreme Court of the United States on March 20th, 1939. The Senate confirmed the appointment on April 4, 1939. Douglas had the longest tenure of any Justice, serving on the Supreme Court for thirty-six years, spanning the careers of five Chief Justices. He retired on November 12, 1975, and died on January 19, 1980, at the age of eighty-one.