Category Archives: History of the Court

On This Day in Supreme Court History—March 17, 1954

On this day in 1954, William Brennan gave a speech that cost him a unanimous vote in the Senate when he was later nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brennan, then a judge on the New Jersey Supreme Court, spoke at the St. Patrick’s Day dinner of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. He chose … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—March 17, 1954

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 11, 1943

On this day in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Wiley B. Rutledge to the Supreme Court. Rutledge was President Roosevelt’s eighth and final appointee to the Court. At the time of his appointment, he had been serving on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1939. The Senate confirmed … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 11, 1943

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 10, 1937

On this day in 1937, Bishop William Manning, head of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York, gave a rather unusual Ash Wednesday sermon. His topic: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to expand the Supreme Court. When Roosevelt announced his controversial “court-packing” plan (as its critics dubbed it) several days earlier, he framed it as … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 10, 1937

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 5, 1813

On this day in 1813, the Supreme Court decided Mima Queen v. Hepburn, an appeal of a suit of an enslaved woman who claimed her freedom. The Court rejected her appeal, holding that the hearsay evidence Mima Queen relied on to establish that her great grandmother was a free woman of color who was wrongly … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 5, 1813

This Day in Supreme Court History—January 20, 1801

On this day in 1801, President John Adams nominated John Marshall to be the Chief Justice of the United States. The vacancy in the Court arose when Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth resigned on December 15, 1800. Ellsworth was in France, where Adams had sent him to negotiate a treaty to end the 1798-1800 “quasi-war” between … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—January 20, 1801

Martin Luther King Jr., the Law, and the Courts

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, we are reposting this essay by ISCOTUS Co-Director Christopher W. Schmidt. Among the most important of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions to American history were his commentaries on the relationship between the law and social justice. King’s views toward the law can be divided into two categories: law … Continue reading Martin Luther King Jr., the Law, and the Courts

Justice Marshall and Judge Mikva: Justice Kagan Reminisces

Justice Elena Kagan clerked for two legal legends after she graduated from law school, First, she clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and she then went on to clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the United States Supreme Court. During her visit to Chicago-Kent … Continue reading Justice Marshall and Judge Mikva: Justice Kagan Reminisces

Justice Ginsburg Wins the Genesis Prize Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The  Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Wednesday November 15 that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the first recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award, which they are awarding to mark the fifth anniversary of the Genesis Prize. According to the Foundation, the prize has been marked “the Jewish Nobel” by Time Magazine.  Justice Ginsburg will … Continue reading Justice Ginsburg Wins the Genesis Prize Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

This Day in Supreme Court History—November 18, 1811

On this day in 1811, the Senate confirmed, by voice vote, two of President James Madison’s nominees to the Supreme Court, Joseph Story and Gabriel Duvall. [Joseph Story] At 32, Story was the youngest Supreme Court appointee in history. The two men received their commissions that same day. (Once they arrived at the Court, Duvall … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—November 18, 1811

The Supreme Court and the Great Tomato Controversy

Over its long history, the Supreme Court has ruled on  many contentious legal issues: slavery and racial segregation, free speech and religious freedom, abortion and marriage equality. Perhaps it is not surprisingly, then, that our nation’s highest court has also weighed in on the biggest controversy ever debated in the produce aisle: whether the tomato … Continue reading The Supreme Court and the Great Tomato Controversy