History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


1607301

Warren E. Burger

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Magnificent formal portrait of Burger, signed and dated as Chief Justice in 1981

Warren Earl Burger, 1907–1995.  Chief Justice of the United States, 1969–1986.   11” x 14” photograph inscribed and signed, Warren E. Burger, and dated by Burger 10/31/81.

This magnificent color portrait of the Chief Justice shows him standing at a table stacked with law books in his office at the Supreme Court.  Burger has inscribed and signed it “For Bob Ainsworth, a valued colleague / and friend, with best wishes / Warren E. Burger.”  In the lower left corner, he has dated it “10/31/81.”

Robert Andrew Ainsworth, Jr. (1910-1981), was a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  He practiced law in New Orleans for nearly 30 years before President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1961.  President Lyndon B. Johnson elevated him to the Court of Appeals in 1966.  Ainsworth died December 22, 1981, just less than two months after Burger inscribed and signed this photograph to him.

The photograph is one of a series of images of Burger taken in 1971 for an official portrait by National Geographic Society photographer Robert Stanley Oakes (1922–2004).  Oakes photographed Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and world leaders during his long career.  He was the official photographer for President Richard Nixonʼs first inaugural medal, and his photographs graced guide books for the Supreme Court, the White House, and the United States Capitol.

Burger, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, worked his way through college and law school at the St. Paul College of Law.  After practicing law for more than twenty years, he served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1956.  Burger served as a judge of the D.C. Circuit until President Nixon named him to replace the retiring Earl Warren as Chief Justice in 1969.

Burger, a conservative, strongly advocated strict construction of the Constitution and voted to limit many of the more liberal Warren Court’s decisions.  He was not, however, an automatic conservative vote.  He approved busing as a remedy for school segregation, for example, and spoke for a unanimous Supreme Court in upholding a subpoena for Nixon’s Oval Office tape recordings, which revealed Nixon’s role in covering up the Watergate burglary and ultimately forced Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

After he retired from the Court in 1986, Burger chaired the Commission for the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. 

This is an 8” x 10” photograph mounted on an 11” x 14” mount.  Burger has inscribed and signed in black felt-tip pen on the mount.  The piece is tipped to a reddish-brown pebbled mat that was added when the piece was previously framed.  We have removed it from the old frame because we could not confirm whether the framer used conservation glass.  Nevertheless, the colors of the photograph are strong, not faded, and the inscription and signature are dark.  The piece is in very fine condition and could easily be reframed for display.

Chief Justice Burgerʼs autograph material is scarce, and this is a particularly desirable photograph signed and dated as Chief Justice.

Unframed.  Click here for information about custom framing this piece.

Click here to see more Supreme Court autographs.

$395.00

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