William O. Douglas
Born - 1898
Died - 1980
William O. Douglas was an associate justice in the U.S.Supreme Court between the years 1939 through 1975. He served longer on the Court, wrote more opinions and more dissents than other justice before him or since. He was an academic founder of the influential legal realist movement, a New Deal administrator as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and internationalist. His dreams included that of the presidency but he turned down an offer for the vice presidential nomination in 1948. He was an ecologist before the term became popular. When the so called Sixties Movement proclaimed that that American youth couldn't "trust anyone over thirty", Douglas was a political hero on college campuses. Needless to say, he was possessed of an extraordinary intelligence, excessive work ethic, and the ability to see larger issues when his contemporaries could not. He had the willingness, and maybe even the need, to be different.
Like other members of the New Deal era, Douglas believed that government had to exert control over the economy, yet he distrusted bureaucracy, whether in corporate or government form. He was quoted as saying that bureaucracy would turn us into " a nation of clerks." Douglas believed that all individuals, regardless of race, religion, or status, were entitled to all the rights that the privileged, by virtue of their money, traditionally enjoyed. This outlook helped pave the way for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
Douglas was a complex, driven man who changed significantly over the years. Until he was about fifty, he was so politically attuned that Franklin D. Roosevelt made him the youngest Supreme court nominee in over a century. By the time he was seventy, he had become infamous for his injudiciousness and his disdain for convention. He was a man with few friends, who called his own generation "bankrupt" in public. He managed to have four wives, the last two of which were in their early twenties. He faced attempts at impeachment, both by Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and managed to survive on the Court.
Despite eventual acceptance of many of his constitutional positions, Douglas seems to have a mixed reputation. This is due mainly to his extra judicial activities and scorn for lawyerlike analysis.
Editorial Comment - In my ever so humble opinion, we could use a few more characters like this to shake things up once in while.
This was also a nodeshell rescue