Byron White

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Byron White
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: April 16, 1962 – June 28, 1993
Nominator John F. Kennedy
Predecessor Charles E. Whittaker
Successor Ruth Bader Ginsburg
4th Deputy Attorney General of the United States
From: January 20, 1961 – April 16, 1962
President John F. Kennedy
Predecessor Lawrence E. Walsh
Successor Nicholas Katzenbach
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Marion Stearns
Religion Episcopalian
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Service Years 1942 – 1945
Rank Lieutenant Commander

Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White (June 8, 1917 – April 15, 2002) was an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1962 to 1993. He was raised in Colorado, where a federal building housing the Tenth Circuit has been named after him.

Early life

White was a standout football player (running back) in the very early days of professional football (long before the NFL was formed) before becoming a judge. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star and was a Rhodes Scholar.[1] Additionally, he also was the runner-up to Clint Frank of Yale for the Heisman Trophy in 1937 while playing for the University of Colorado.

Supreme Court justice

A social conservative appointed by President John F. Kennedy, White was one of only two Justices to dissent from Roe v. Wade in 1973. He also opposed inventing a constitutional right for homosexuality, and wrote the decision for the Court in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), which he stated that:

It is obvious to us that neither of these [precedents] would extend a fundamental right to homosexuals to engage in acts of consensual sodomy. Proscriptions against that conduct have ancient roots. See generally Survey on the Constitutional Right to Privacy in the Context of Homosexual Activity, 40 U. Miami L. Rev. 521, 525 (1986). Sodomy was a criminal offense at common law and was forbidden by the laws of the original 13 States when they ratified the Bill of Rights. In 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, all but 5 of the 37 States in the Union had criminal sodomy laws. In fact, until 1961, all 50 States outlawed sodomy, and today, 24 States and the District of Columbia continue to provide criminal penalties for sodomy performed in private and between consenting adults. See Survey, U. Miami L. Rev., supra, at 524, n. 9. Against this background, to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" is, at best, facetious.

Justice White wrote many of the expansive Court decisions on absolute judicial immunity.

He resigned in 1993 while only in his 70s so that President Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat, could fill his vacancy.