The Supreme Court

Burger Court

After successfully stopping the nomination of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice, the Republicans won overwhelmingly in the next election and President Richard Nixon got to appoint Chief Justice Earl Warren's successor. He wanted to find someone who would reshape the court in his image and he chose Warren Burger.

Burger was not a forceful leader and was never able to overturn any of the Warren Court's rulings. Instead his court was led by the moderate justices who tried to find middle ground. While it might not have been his intention when he took over the court, his court's ruling on abortion set off a social struggle that continues to split the nation today.

By the end of the Burger court the idea of judicial restraint died and the appointment of activist justices seemed to be the norm for the foreseeable future. This battle between conservative versus liberal activism still divides the court, and the country, today.

Chief Justice Warren E Burger's official portrait by photographer Robert Oaks.

Chief Justice Warren E Burger's official portrait by photographer Robert Oaks.(From the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Let's take a look at how all this got started and how the Burger Court was steered by the middle, and then I'll review a couple of landmark cases, including one that led to the first resignation of a U.S. president.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Supreme Court © 2004 by Lita Epstein, J.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Top 10 Group Halloween Costumes for Families
These store-bought and Pinterest-inspired Halloween costume ideas for groups are the perfect way to show off your creative side at your Halloween party or while trick-or-treating.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

12 Spine-Tingling Halloween Movies for Teens
Are you looking for a movie with just a little bit of spook-factor for your teen? Check out these 12 spine-tingling Halloween movies!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!