Earl Warren had been a straightforward man who made historic statements in simple words and made historic decisions in quiet dignity. So it was fitting that funeral services for the 83-year-old former Chief Justice of the United States be dominated by the same tone of solemn understatement.
Warren had made an ample share of enemies in the 16 years he served at the head of the Supreme Court, following his appointment by President Eisenhower in 1953. (It was an appointment that Eisenhower, upset by Warren’s liberal rulings, later called “the biggest damnfool mistake I ever made.”) But the mourners and eulogists at Warren’s funeral stressed the achievements of the railroad worker’s son who had been governor of California and a candidate for Vice-President before becoming the nation’s 14th Chief Justice. Thirteen present and former Supreme Court justices attended the ceremonies, as did President Nixon, a long-standing and sometimes bitter foe of Warren in both political and legal matters. Three clergymen, one Catholic, one Protestant and one Jewish, presided over the services, which began at the Supreme Court, moved to Washington Cathedral and ended at Arlington National Cemetery.
Rabbi Alvin Fine of San Francisco called Warren “a classic American” and said, “one of the giants of our generation has fallen.” The Most Rev. Philip M. Hannan, Catholic Archbishop of New Orleans, quoted from the 72nd Psalm: “He will free the poor man who calls to him and those who need help…. He will redeem their lives from exploitation and outrage.”
Then Warren, a World War I veteran, was buried with military honors just a few feet from the grave of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who reportedly rejected a proffered nomination as Chief Justice before it was given to Warren.