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William J. Brennan, Jr.

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Signed formal portrait photograph of Justice Brennan

William Joseph Brennan, Jr., 1906–1997.  Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, 1956–1990.  8” x 10” black-and-white portrait inscribed and signed Wm J. Brennan, Jr.

This is an extremely nice embossed panel portrait of Justice Brennan seated at his desk.  A wall of United States Reports, the official reports of Supreme Court decisions, is behind him.  Brennan has inscribed the photograph “For John B. Ashby / with cordial regards / Wm J. Brennan Jr.”

Brennan, a staunch liberal, was one of the giants of the Supreme Court during the second half of the 20th Century.  He wrote such landmark decisions as Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), which ensconced the idea of one person, one vote in the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, providing a federal remedy for state gerrymandering in voting apportionment; New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), which weighed the rights of the press against the rights of public persons and held that, under the First Amendment, public officials may not recover for defamation unless the speaker either knew that his statements were false or acted with reckless disregard for whether they were false; and Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), which prohibited prosecution for the free speech involved in burning the American flag in protest. 

Although Brennan was a Democrat, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him an Associate Justice in 1956.  Brennan went on to serve 34 years on the Supreme Court and wrote an astounding 1,573 opinions:  533 majority opinions, 694 dissents, and 346 concurrences.

This photograph is clean and bright.  It was previously framed, but since the framer did not use conservation glass, Brennan’s inscription and signature have faded to brown but are still nicely readable.  The photo was mounted to a foam-core backing for framing.  The backing is dented from where the framer’s points held the piece in the frame, but that does not affect the photograph.  The photo is in fine condition and would be very fine were it not mounted. 


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