Category Archives: History of the Court

On this day in Supreme Court History—December 10, 1862: Justice Davis takes the oath of office

On this day in 1862, Justice David Davis took his oath of office. David Davis was born March 9, 1815, in Cecil County, Maryland. He moved to Illinois, where he became a state representative in 1845 and then a State Circuit Judge from 1848 to 1862. During this time he formed a friendship with Abraham … Continue reading On this day in Supreme Court History—December 10, 1862: Justice Davis takes the oath of office

On This Day in Supreme Court History—November 28, 1872—Justice Nelson Retired from the Court

On this day in 1872, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Nelson retired from the Court. Nelson was born on a farm in New York in 1792. After graduating from Middlebury College in 1813, he clerked and eventually became a partner at a law firm. He was also active in the Democratic-Republican Party.  At the age of … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—November 28, 1872—Justice Nelson Retired from the Court

On This Day in Supreme Court History—November 15, 1882

On this day in 1882, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter was born in Vienna, Austria. At the age of twelve, he moved to New York’s lower east side with his parents and five siblings. Despite not learning English until he came to the United States, he soon became an exceptional student. He graduated first in … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—November 15, 1882

Birthright Citizenship, the President, and the Supreme Court

Last week, President Donald Trump declared his intent to use an executive order to limit the right of birthright citizenship. The principle that anyone born on American soil is a citizen of the United States is based in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1868. The Amendment opens with the declaration, … Continue reading Birthright Citizenship, the President, and the Supreme Court

Primer on Types of Filings in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has a break from argument and from its scheduled Conferences for the next week or two. The Court is scheduled to release orders again on October 29, and on the same day will hear arguments in Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc.and Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela. In the … Continue reading Primer on Types of Filings in the Supreme Court

On This Day in Supreme Court History—September 26, 1986

On this day in 1986, Antonin Scalia was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. At the same ceremony, William Rehnquist was sworn in as the sixteenth Chief Justice of the United States. President Ronald Reagan used the occasion to praise the two men for their commitment to “judicial constraint.” … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—September 26, 1986

Putting SCOTUS confirmation hearings in context

Contemporary Supreme Court confirmation hearings are both exciting and disappointing. They are exciting because they provide a chance to hear directly from the nominee, who otherwise may not be well known. The interested public can learn a bit about the individual’s public personality and intelligence. On the other hand, the hearings are disappointing because the … Continue reading Putting SCOTUS confirmation hearings in context

The Rise and Fall of the No-Litmus-Test Rule

For decades, presidential candidates disclaimed the idea that they would have “litmus tests” for their nominees to the Supreme Court. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that to demand that their judicial nominees decide particular cases particular ways would be wrong. Judicial litmus tests were bad. They were what candidates accused opponents of having. In the … Continue reading The Rise and Fall of the No-Litmus-Test Rule

The Court and the 2016 Election—Lessons From History

When it comes to the role of the Supreme Court on the presidential campaign trail, how does the 2016 election compare to past elections? For all its precedent-shattering and unpredictable qualities, the 2016 campaign basically fell into a predictable dynamic when it came to the candidates’ treatment of the Court. As I discussed in my … Continue reading The Court and the 2016 Election—Lessons From History