Harold Hitz Burton
|Harold Hitz Burton|
|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States|
September 22, 1945 – October 13, 1958
|Nominated by||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||Owen Roberts|
|Succeeded by||Potter Stewart|
|United States Senator
January 3, 1941 – September 30, 1945
|Preceded by||A. Vic Donahey|
|Succeeded by||James W. Huffman|
|Mayor of Cleveland|
|Preceded by||Harry L. Davis|
|Succeeded by||Edward J. Blythin|
|Born||Harold Hitz Burton
June 22, 1888
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
|Died||October 28, 1964
|Spouse(s)||Selma Florence Smith, Married 1912|
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College|
Harold Hitz Burton (June 22, 1888 – October 28, 1964) was an American politician and lawyer. He served as the 45th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was known as a dispassionate jurist who prized equal justice under the law.
He was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, to Alfred E. Burton and Anna Gertrude Hitz. His father was a Dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was also an explorer. He had accompanied Robert Peary on several expeditions to the North Pole. He was also a second cousin of J. Edgar Hoover on their mothers' side. Their common great-grandparents were Johannes (Hans) Hitz, first Swiss Consul General to the United States, and wife Anna Kohler.
Burton attended Bowdoin College, where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, was quarterback of the football team, and graduated summa cum laude. His roommate and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Theta chapter) brother was Owen Brewster, later a U.S. Senator from Maine. He went on to Harvard Law School, graduating in 1912.
After graduating, he moved to Cleveland and began the practice of law there. However, in 1914 he joined his wife's uncle as a company attorney for Utah Power and Light Company in Salt Lake City. He later worked for Utah Light and Traction, and then for Idaho Power Company and Boise Valley Traction Company, both in Boise, Idaho.
When the U.S. entered World War I, Burton joined the United States Army, rising to the rank of Captain. He served as an infantry officer, saw heavy action in France and Belgium, and received the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
After the war, Burton returned to the practice of law in Cleveland. He also taught at Western Reserve University Law School. In the late 1920s he entered politics as a Republican. He was elected to the East Cleveland Board of Education in 1927, and to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1928. After serving briefly in the Ohio House, he became law director for the city of Cleveland in 1929, till returning to private practice in 1932.
In 1935 he was elected Mayor of Cleveland. He was re-elected twice, and served until entering the U.S. Senate in 1941. For his decorous personal life and opposition to organized crime, he was dubbed "the Boy Scout Mayor".
In 1940, Burton was elected to the U.S. Senate, with 52.3% of the vote.
It was in the Senate that he first met fellow Senator Harry S. Truman. Burton served on Truman's "Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program", which monitored the U.S. war effort during World War II, and the two got along well.
Justice Owen J. Roberts retired later that year, and Truman decided to appoint a Republican to replace him as a bipartisan gesture. He selected Burton as someone whom he knew and respected. (See, Harry S. Truman Supreme Court candidates.) His nomination was announced to the Senate and confirmed unanimously on the same day, without hearing or debate. Burton resigned from the Senate on September 30, 1945, when President Truman nominated him, and took his seat on the Court the next day. Burton was the last serving member of Congress appointed to the Court, although former Senator Sherman Minton was appointed in 1949.
Burton served until retiring on October 13, 1958. According to Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren's papers, Burton was influential in bringing about the Supreme Court's unanimity in the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education.
Burton married Selma Florence Smith in 1912. They had four children: Barbara (Mrs. Charles Weidner), William (who served in the Ohio House of Representatives and was a noted trial lawyer), Deborah (Mrs. Wallace Adler), and Robert (a distinguished attorney and counsel to athletes).
He suffered from Parkinson's disease in his later years. He died on October 28, 1964 in Washington, DC, from complications arising from this, kidney failure and pulmonary trouble. His remains are interred at Highland Park Cemetery in Cleveland.
Cleveland's Main Avenue Bridge was renamed in his honor in 1986.
His papers and other memorabilia are primarily in four collections. Bowdoin College has 750 items including documents concerning 47 judicial opinions; The Hiram College Archives collection holds 69 items. The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress has 187 ft. (120,000 items) consisting mainly of correspondence and legal files. The Western Reserve Historical Society has 10 linear ft. relating mainly to his tenure as mayor of Cleveland; the collection contains correspondence, reports, speeches, proclamations, and newspaper clippings relating to routine administrative matters and topics of special interest during Burton's mayoralty. Other papers repose at various institutions around the country, as part of other collections.
See also 
- List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
- List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States
- List of United States Chief Justices by time in office
- List of U.S. Supreme Court Justices by time in office
- United States Supreme Court cases during the Stone Court
- United States Supreme Court cases during the Vinson Court
- United States Supreme Court cases during the Warren Court
- "Federal Judicial Center: Harold Hitz Burton". December 12, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
- Supreme Court Justices Who Are Phi Beta Kappa Members, Phi Beta Kappa website, accessed Oct 4, 2009
- HAROLD HITZ BURTON: MAYOR, SENATOR, & SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, accessed March 2, 2011.
- Harold Hitz Burton biography at the Ohio Judicial Center, accessed March 2, 2011
- Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1940, p. 24
- Christensen, George A. (1983) Here Lies the Supreme Court: Gravesites of the Justices, Yearbook Supreme Court Historical Society at Internet Archive.
- Christensen, George A., "Here Lies the Supreme Court: Revisited", Journal of Supreme Court History, Volume 33 Issue 1, Pages 17–41 (Feb 19, 2008), University of Alabama.
- Harold Hitz Burton Papers at Bowdoin College.
- Federal Judicial Center, Resources, Harold Hitz Burton.
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Further reading 
- Abraham, Henry J., Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court. 3d. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). ISBN 0-19-506557-3.
- Berry, Mary Frances, (1978) Stability, Security, and Confinuity: Mr. Justice Burton and Decision-Making in the Supreme Court (1945–1958) Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. viii, 286 p. ISBN 0-8371-9798-8 ISBN 0-19-506557-3.
- Cushman, Clare, The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies,1789–1995 (2nd ed.) (Supreme Court Historical Society), (Congressional Quarterly Books, 2001) ISBN 1-56802-126-7; ISBN 978-1-56802-126-3.
- Forrester, Ray. (October 1945) Mr. Justice Burton and the Supreme Court New Orleans: Tulane Law Review.
- Frank, John P., The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions (Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel, editors) (Chelsea House Publishers: 1995) ISBN 0-7910-1377-4, ISBN 978-0-7910-1377-9.
- Martin, Fenton S. and Goehlert, Robert U., The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography, (Congressional Quarterly Books, 1990). ISBN 0-87187-554-3.
- Urofsky, Melvin I., The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary (New York: Garland Publishing 1994). 590 pp. ISBN 0-8153-1176-1; ISBN 978-0-8153-1176-8.
- Ohio Judicial Center, Harold Hitz Burton.
- Harold Hitz Burton, Timeline of the Court at
- Harold Hitz Burton at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
|Offices and distinctions|