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David J. Brewer

David J. Brewer

U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Born: June 20, 1837, Smyrna, Asia Minor (now Izir, Turkey).  Died: March 28, 1910, Washington, DC

Few Kansans have earned more respect and admiration for public service than Supreme Court Justice David J. Brewer. Born in 1837 in Smyrna, Asia Minor, Brewer came to Kansas Territory in 1858 and established his law practice in Leavenworth. His lengthy judicial career began in 1861 with an appointment as Commissioner of the Federal Circuit Court and led to his appointment in 1889 as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

His judicial philosophy was described as "moderate conservative." Justice Brewer often voted with the court's majority in striking down progressive laws restricting property rights, but he wrote the courts opinion on the famous Muller vs. Oregon case which upheld the constitutionality of a law limiting working hours for women in industry. His cases illustrated his strong commitment to protection of individual liberties as well as international peace.

He was an outspoken opponent of Imperialism and a leading supporter of missionary activity. Although he lived in Washington, D.C. during the last twenty years of his life, Brewer made frequent return trips to Kansas. A cemetery in Leavenworth became his final resting place in 1910.

Entry: Brewer, David J.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2003

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.