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Flashback Friday: On This Day In 1975, Justice Douglas Retires From Court

Nov 12, 2010

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Nov. 12, 1975:

William O. Douglas, who has served longer than any Supreme Court justice in history, retires after more than 36 years.

Douglas was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt in April 1939 and became the longest serving justice in Oct. 1973.

One of the court's more liberal members, Douglas was a strong advocate of women's reproductive rights, civil liberties, and efforts to weaken government power.  Conservatives had long claimed that Douglas had gone too far, and Rep. Gerald Ford (R-Mich.), then the Republican minority leader in the House, led an effort to impeach Douglas in 1970.

Ford, of course, is now the president, and Douglas' retirement gives him his first opportunity to nominate someone to the court.  On Nov. 28, he will name John Paul Stevens, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals from Chicago.

Douglas died on Jan. 19, 1980.

Flashback Friday is a weekly feature on Political Junkie.

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