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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 24, 1997

Statement by the Vice President

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Justice William Brennan earlier today. In 34 years on the nation's highest court, Justice Brennan helped make the Supreme Court the institution which citizens looked to in order to protect their civil liberties. And when he was in the chamber, Americans knew they had a champion of individual rights on their side.

Born the son of an immigrant laborer from Ireland, Justice Brennan promoted the freedoms of the average American citizen throughout a career that included more than 1,200 opinions. In a Supreme Court career that spanned the terms of eight presidencies, Justice Brennan shaped the decisions that enforced school desegregation, protected freedom of the press, and promoted the principle that any person -- rich or poor, black or white -- could seek aid from the government in the courts. William Brennan enunciated the principle of "one-person, one-vote" and he was one person who created a more just America.

Whether it was in protecting the rights of the disabled, women, children, or minorities, William Brennan led the Supreme Court to make some very important statements about who we are as Americans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Tipper and I are saddened by his passing, but know that America is better off for his having lived.