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When he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1962, Byron Raymond White was, at the age of 44, a symbol of the vigor, youth, and intellectual power of the Kennedy administration. From a poor, rural background, he had ranked first in the class of 1938 at the University of Colorado, becoming a football All-American and winning a Rhodes Scholarship. By the time he graduated from Yale Law School in 1946, he had briefly studied at Oxford, played three seasons of professional football, served as a naval intelligence officer in the Pacific, and twice encountered John Kennedy (once at Oxford, once in the Pacific). After clerking for Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, White joined a law practice in Denver, where he remained for fourteen years. When Kennedy won the Democratic nomination for President in 1960, White chaired the nationwide volunteer group Citizens for Kennedy. His service as Deputy Attorney General under Robert Kennedy included screening candidates for judicial appointments and supervising federal marshals protecting civil rights workers in the South. He had been at that job only fourteen months when the President nominated him to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Charles E. Whittaker.

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