Burger Court's Tenth Year

Archive Report

Shift toward a Centrist Position

Strict Constructionism: Nixon-Ford Legacy

When the Supreme Court opens its fall term Oct. 2, it will mark the beginning of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger's tenth year on the court. Burger came to the post of chief justice with the reputation of a conservative, especially on questions of criminal law. He was an outspoken critic of the judicial activism that characterized the court under Chief Justice Earl Warren. President Nixon described Burger as a “strict constructionist” who would return the court to its proper role as interpreter rather than maker of law.

Burger was Nixon's first appointment to the court. His appointment, coming soon after Nixon took office in 1969, was followed by those of Associate Justices Harry A. Blackmun in 1970, ...

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