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Published on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 read more ...

William O. Douglas

Gravestone of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Section 5, Grave 7004-B-1

Serving for 36 years and seven months, Justice William O. Douglas holds the record for longest continuous tenure on the Supreme Court. 

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Douglas spent the early years of his career at prestigious Wall Street firm Cravath, Henderson and de Gersdorff (now Cravath, Swaine and Moore). He also taught law at Columbia and Yale, becoming one of Yale Law School's youngest chaired professors. A committed supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, in 1934 he left Yale to join the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), becoming SEC chairman three years later.

In 1939, President Roosevelt nominated Douglas to the Supreme Court. Replacing renowned Justice Louis D. Brandeis, he was Brandeis's personal choice for a successor — and, sworn in at the age of 40, one of the youngest Supreme Court justices in U.S. history. A committed civil libertarian, Douglas fiercely advocated for rights to free speech and privacy. Consistent with his background as a New Dealer, he also supported the regulation of business through antitrust law and labor law.