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Earl Warren

Earl Warren , (born March 19, 1891, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.—died July 9, 1974, Washington, D.C.), American jurist, the 14th chief justice of the United States (1953–69), who presided over the Supreme Court during a period of sweeping changes in U.S. constitutional law, especially in the areas of race relations, criminal procedure, and legislative apportionment.

Warren was the son of Erik Methias Warren, a Norwegian immigrant who worked as a railroad repairman, and Christine Hernlund Warren, who emigrated with her parents from Sweden when she was a child. His father was blacklisted for a time following the Pullman Strike (1894), and Earl also worked for the railroad during his youth; his experience soured his view toward the railway, and in his memoirs he noted that his progressive political and legal attitudes resulted from his exposure to the exploitive and corrupt conduct of the railroad companies.

Warren attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received bachelor’s (1912) and law (1914) degrees. His political appetite was whetted by his work on the successful campaign of Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Hiram Johnson. After graduation he was admitted to the bar and spent three years in private practice. In 1917 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving stateside during World War I and rising to the rank of first lieutenant before his discharge in 1918. Thereafter he briefly worked with the California State Assembly before becoming deputy city attorney for Oakland; in 1920 he took up the post of deputy district attorney for Alameda county. In 1925–26 he served out the remaining year of the district attorney’s term of office, and in 1926 he won a full term as Alameda county district attorney.

As district attorney until 1939, Warren distinguished himself for both his honesty and hard work and for fighting corruption (e.g., he successfully prosecuted the county sheriff and several of his deputies). He also earned support within the Republican Party for prosecuting radicals under the