30 Facts About Harry Blackmun


Harry Andrew Blackmun was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 to 1994.


Harry Blackmun is best known as the author of the Court's opinion in Roe v Wade.


Harry Blackmun retired from the Court during President Bill Clinton's administration and was succeeded by Stephen Breyer.


Harry Blackmun joined part of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's opinion in Planned Parenthood v Casey but filed a separate opinion, warning that Roe was in jeopardy.


Harry Blackmun wrote dissenting opinions in notable cases such as Furman v Georgia, Bowers v Hardwick, and DeShaney v Winnebago County.


Harry Blackmun was born on November 12,1908, in Nashville, Illinois, to Theo Huegely and Corwin Manning Harry Blackmun.


Harry Blackmun grew up in Dayton's Bluff, a working-class neighborhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where his father owned a small store.

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Harry Blackmun attended the same grade school as future Chief Justice Warren E Burger.


Harry Blackmun attended Mechanic Arts High School in Saint Paul, where he graduated fourth in his class of 450 in 1925.


At Harvard, Harry Blackmun joined Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and sang with the Harvard Glee Club.


Harry Blackmun attended Harvard Law School, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 1932.


Harry Blackmun married Dorothy Clark in 1941 and they had three daughters.


Between 1950 and 1959, Harry Blackmun served as resident counsel for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.


Harry Blackmun said that he would recommend Blackmun to the Eisenhower administration if Blackmun wished to succeed him.


Harry Blackmun was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 14,1959 and received his commission on September 21.


Harry Blackmun was sworn into office on June 9,1970.


Harry Blackmun's earlier failed nominees were Clement Haynsworth in September 1969 and G Harrold Carswell in February 1970.


In 1972, Blackmun joined Burger and Nixon's other two appointees in dissenting from Furman v Georgia, the decision that invalidated all capital punishment laws then in force in the United States, and in 1976, he voted to reinstate the death penalty in Gregg v Georgia, even the mandatory death penalty statutes.


In both instances Harry Blackmun indicated his personal opinion of the death penalty's shortcomings as a policy, but insisted his political opinions should have no bearing on the death penalty's constitutionality.


In 1973, Blackmun authored the majority opinion in Roe v Wade, invalidating a Texas statute that banned abortion except when a pregnant woman's life was in danger.


Ancillary to the primary right to abortion, Blackmun extended First Amendment protection to commercial speech in Bigelow v Commonwealth of Virginia, a case where the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of an editor who ran an advertisement for an abortion referral service.


For example, Blackmun wrote a dissent to the Court's opinion in Bowers v Hardwick.


Harry Blackmun felt very strongly about it, and I think is correct in her approach to it.


When Harry Blackmun's papers were released at the Library of Congress, his sometimes negative notations regarding fellow Justice Clarence Thomas came to light.


Harry Blackmun announced his retirement from the Supreme Court in April 1994, four months before he officially left the bench, assuming retired status on August 3,1994.

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In 1995, Harry Blackmun received the United States Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.


In 1997, Harry Blackmun portrayed Justice Joseph Story in the Steven Spielberg film Amistad, making him the only United States Supreme Court justice to play a judge in a motion picture.


On February 22,1999, Harry Blackmun fell in his home and broke his hip.


Harry Blackmun lay in repose in the Great Hall of the United States Supreme Court Building, and was buried five days later at Arlington National Cemetery.


Harry Blackmun's wife died seven years later on July 13,2006, at the age of 95, and was buried next to him.