The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas


Event Description

An undeniable giant in the legal world, US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s enduring legacy was his advocacy for the environment, though he was also known for his landmark decisions in privacy, criminal law, and civil rights. He was the longest-serving justice from 1939-1975. His powerful role in the environmental movement is celebrated in Judge McKeown’s recent book, Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas—Public Advocate and Conservation Champion.

Justice Douglas emerged as a true citizen justice through his protests, lobbying, speeches and articles warning against environmental dangers like logging, highway construction, and pollution. Although his efforts were admired by conservation groups, they often raised ethical dilemmas among his colleagues at the Supreme Court.

Judge M. Margaret McKeown offers an insightful look at the lasting contributions that Justice Douglas made to both the physical environment and environmental law and how his work lives on today. She will also explore the politics and ethics of his advocacy work.

Speaker Bio

M. Margaret McKeown has served almost twenty-five years as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an affiliated scholar at the Center for the American West at Stanford University and jurist-in-residence at the University of San Diego School of Law. As a former White House Fellow, she served as special assistant at the White House and as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior. A Wyoming native, she serves on the board of Teton Science Schools and was a member of the first American expedition to Mt. Shishapangma in Tibet.

Judge McKeown recently published Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas—Public Advocate and Conservation Champion (Potomac Press, 2022).

Judge McKeown graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and holds an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University. Before her appointment, she was the first woman partner at Perkins Coie in Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Judge McKeown is a member of the US Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability. She chairs the Ninth Circuit Workplace Environment Committee and is a member of the National Workplace Conduct Working Group. She is on the Council of the American Law Institute, the Judicial Advisory Board of the American Society of International Law, and the editorial board of Litigation magazine. She served as Chair of the ABA Commission on the 19th Amendment, past President of the Federal Judges Association and former chair of the US Judicial Conference Codes of Conduct Committee (ethics).

Judge McKeown is on the board of the World Justice Project and is immediate past chair of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and a current special advisor. She has lectured throughout the world on international law, intellectual property, human rights, ethics and constitutional law and has participated in numerous rule of law initiatives with judges and lawyers.

Judge McKeown received the ABA Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement award, the ABA John Marshall Award, the Inns of Court Ninth Circuit Professionalism Award, the Washington Women Lawyers President’s Award and the Girl Scouts Cool Woman Award, among others.

Subject Headings

US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and environmental law


CWRU School of Law, A59, Mootcourt Room

Document Type