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Warren E. Burger

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“I challenge you to emulate and surpass other chapters in establishing programs

that will help translate these ideals into the daily practice of our profession."

Warren Earl Burger, 1907–1995.  Chief Justice of the United States, 1969–1986.   Typed Letter Signed, Warren E. Burger, one page, 8½" x 11", on blind-embossed, engraved stationery of the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C., November 10, 1981.

In this outstanding letter, as he congratulates them upon the establishment of a chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta international law fraternity at Harvard Law School, the Chief Justice challenges Harvard law students to meet or surpass other chaptersʼ achievements to put the fraternityʼs ideals into daily practice in the legal profession.  Signing “Fraternally yours,” he writes, in full:

I am pleased to learn that Harvard University Law School is to have a chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International.  I congratulate you and your fellow-students on your foresight and initiative in organizing at Harvard the Goerge [sic] Lewis Ruffin Chapter and I congratulate Phi Alpha Delta.

This law fraternity, which has pioneered in so many areas of legal education, now becomes the first national law fraternity to establish a student chapter at Harvard in recent decades.

My affiliation with PAD over some 15 years has been most satisfying.  I commend to you its lofty Declaration of purpose:

" . . . to form a strong bond uniting students and teachers of the law with members of the Bench and Bar in a fraternal fellowship designed to advance the ideals of liberty and equal justice under law; to stimulate excellence in scholarship; to inspire the virtues of compassion and courage; to foster integrity and professional competence; to promote the welfare of its members; and to encourage their moral, intellectual, and cultural advancement; so that each member may enjoy a lifetime of honorable professional and public service."

I challenge you to emulate and surpass other chapters in establishing programs that will help translate these ideals into the daily practice of our profession.

The successor to similar earlier organizations, Phi Alpha Delta was formed on November 8, 1902.  It provides “service to the student, the school, the profession, and the community."  The fraternity has had more than 300,000 members since its founding.  In 1950, it became the first law fraternity to lift racial restrictions, and in 1970 it became the first to admit women.  Membership today is open to all genders, races, creeds, and national origins.  Among its members are university pre-law and law school students, lawyers, judges, United States Supreme Court justices, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and state governors.  Its membership has also included six Presidents of the United States.

George Lewis Ruffin (1834–1886), a lawyer and judge for whom the Harvard chapter is named, was the first African-American to graduate from Harvard Law School.  He was also the first African-American to serve as a judge in the United States when he was appointed to the Boston municipal court in 1883.

Burger has signed this letter in black felt-tip pen with a large 3" signature.  The letter has two normal horizontal mailing folds, which touch neither the text nor Burgerʼs signature.  The letter is unevenly toned, particularly around the top, right, and bottom edges, from storage.  It is in very good to fine condition, but absent the toning it would be very fine.

Chief Justice Burgerʼs letters are scarce, and those with legal content even more so.  Thus, despite its toning, this letter is very desirable.

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

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