Burger Court | Definition

Course: Introduction

The Burger Court was an era of the Supreme Court defined by the years that Warren Earl Burger presided as Chief Justice.

The Burger Court was a significant era in the history of the United States Supreme Court, spanning the years from 1969 to 1986, during which Warren Earl Burger served as the Chief Justice. The Burger Court was widely regarded as a conservative court, and its decisions reflected that ideology. Burger was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1969, and he presided over the court for 17 years.

One of the most notable cases of the Burger Court was Roe v. Wade, in which the Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to choose to have an abortion. Another important decision was United States v. Nixon, which established the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. The Court also ruled on affirmative action, school desegregation, and the death penalty during the Burger Court era.

One of the major critiques of the Court was that it was too deferential to the executive branch of government, particularly in matters of national security and foreign affairs. In cases such as United States v. Nixon and New York Times Co. v. United States, the Court did assert its independence from the executive branch, but in other cases, such as United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., the Court upheld broad executive powers.

Another criticism of the Court was that it did not do enough to protect civil liberties and the rights of minorities. For example, in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Court struck down a racial quota system used in college admissions, but it also upheld the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions, leading to ongoing debates about affirmative action.

Overall, the Burger Court played an important role in shaping the legal landscape of the United States during its era. While its decisions were often criticized, they also helped to establish important legal precedents and protections that continue to shape American law and society today.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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