White, Byron Raymond

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

White, Byron Raymond

Byron Raymond White, 1917–2002, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1962–93), b. Fort Collins, Colo. An All-America football player nicknamed "Whizzer" who later starred as a professional, White was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa at the Univ. of Colorado, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1938. He then went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar (1939–40), and received his law degree at Yale in 1946 after serving in the navy in World War II. White served (1946–47) as law clerk for Chief Justice Frederick Vinson before going to Denver to practice corporate law. He supported John F. Kennedy for the presidency in 1960, and was appointed deputy attorney general in 1961. In 1962, Kennedy named him to succeed Charles E. Whittaker on the Supreme Court. After President Nixon's conservative appointments to the court, White became known as a "swing" justice, generally voting with the liberals on civil-rights cases, but with the conservatives on personal liberty and criminal-justice issues. He was one of two justices to dissent from the Roe v. Wade (1973) abortion decision, and in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) he wrote a decision that upheld Georgia's sodomy statutes. White retired from the Court in 1993.

See D. J. Hutchinson, The Man Who Once Was Whizzer White (1998).

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