Renaissance Man Byron White Was Colorado’s First Supreme Court Justice

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Photo: Renaissance Man Byron White
Before his 31 years on the Supreme Court, Byron White was a football star at the University of Colorado.

If President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, federal appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, is confirmed, he’ll be the second Coloradan to serve on the nation’s highest court. The first was Byron White, who, over 31 years on the bench, ruled on some of the 20th century's most well-known -- and sometimes controversial -- cases. White opined on Miranda rights, birth control, gay rights, and was one of two dissenting votes in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion.

Before his legal career commenced, White made a name for himself in football. He was a star halfback at the University of Colorado, and in 1937 became the Buffaloes' first All-American in any sport. White played professionally for the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Steelers) and the Detroit Lions. He attendedOxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, studied law at Yale, and practiced in Denver before being named to the Supreme Court by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. He retired in 1983, and passed away in 2002.

White's former clerk Dennis Hutchinson, now a law professor at the University of Chicago and author of the biography “The Man Who Once was Whizzer White,” spoke with Colorado Matters' host Nathan Heffel.

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