Though Thomass views are rare today, they have, sadly, not been the least bit uncommon during the supreme courts history. He makes this list because, frankly, he should know better than his predecessors. As i explain in Injustices, many of the justices who resisted progressive legislation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were, like field, motivated by ideology. Many others, however, were motivated by fear of the rapid changes state and federal lawmakers implemented in the wake of the even more rapid changes brought about by the Industrial revolution. It was possible to believe, in a world where factories, railroads, and the laws required to regulate factories and railroads were all very new things, that these laws would, as Herbert hoover once said about the new deal, destroy the very foundations of our American. But Thomas has the benefit of eighty years of American history that hoover had not witnessed when he warned of an overreaching government.
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The first hobbled Congresss ability to tax the walk wealthy. The book second gave a business trust which controlled over 98 percent of the nations sugar production constitutional immunity to federal antitrust laws. And the third gave every federal judge in the country sweeping, extra-legal powers to bust unions. After fields death, Chief Justice fuller presided over the courts infamous decision in Lochner. New York, which struck down a new York law prohibiting bakeries from overworking their workers. Lawyers and legal historians widely view this decision as symbolic of the entire era in the early twentieth century when fields values dominated the supreme court — indeed, this age is commonly referred to as the lochner Era. 5) Justice Clarence Thomas credit: ap photo/Dr. Lieberman Justice Clarence Thomas is the only current member of the supreme court who has explicitly embraced the reasoning of Lochner Era decisions striking down nationwide child labor laws and making similar attacks on federal power. Indeed, under the logic Thomas first laid out in a concurring opinion in United States. Lopez, the federal minimum wage, overtime rules, anti-discrimination protections for workers, and even the national ban on whites-only lunch counters are all unconstitutional.
But no justice carried more vitriol or self-absorbed hatred to the bench than Justice McReynolds. 4) Chief Justice melville Fuller credit: Library of Congress resume If it were up to melville fuller, Abraham Lincoln would never have been president. Born into one of maines most prominent Democratic families, fuller moved to Chicago and became a top campaign surrogate for Lincolns two-time opponent Senator Stephen douglas. Though nominally opposed to slavery, fuller denounced the fanatical and hot-headed course of the abolition madmen. As a delegate to Illinoiss constitutional convention in 1862, he voted to prohibit black men and women from settling in the state or casting a ballot in its elections. As a member of the state legislature, he labeled the Emancipation Proclamation unconstitutional, contrary to the rules of civilized warfare, and calculated to bring shame, disgrace and eternal infamy upon the nation. He also backed a constitutional amendment preventing congressional interference with slavery. After the civil War, fuller became an outspoken proponent of anti-government views similar to justice fields, attacking Lincolns Republican Party for allegedly believing that government should exercise the functions belonging to divine Providence, and should regulate the profits of labor and the value of property. In 1895, two years before the elderly field left the court, fuller presided over a trio of major decisions, two of which he authored.
He refused to speak to justice louis. Brandeis for Brandeis s first three years on the court because Brandeis was Jewish, and he forbade contact between his staff and the jewish Justices Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo. There is no official photograph of resume the justices for 1924 because the courts seniority-based seating chart required McReynolds to sit next to Brandeis, and McReynolds simply refused to be photographed next to his Jewish colleague. When Brandeis offered his views in conferences, McReynolds would simply stand up and leave. On the rare occasions when a woman argued a case before McReynoldss court, the justice would exclaim I see the female is here and walk out of the courtroom. When Charles Hamilton houston, the harvard-educated black attorney who mentored future justice Thurgood Marshall as dean of the howard Law School, argued before the supreme court in 1938, McReynolds turned his back on the courtroom to signal his disapproval. McReynolds once warned one of his law clerks, who had grown close with Harry parker, that the clerk seemed to forget that Parker is a negro. He advised the clerk to think of my wishes in this matter in your future relations with the darkies. McReynolds was, sadly, one of many justices who joined opinions striking down child labor laws or a minimum wage, and he was only one of the four Horsemen who resisted the new deal during President Franklin roosevelts first two terms in office.
Injustices : McReynolds was, in, time magazines words, a savagely sarcastic, incredibly reactionary puritan anti-semite. He often would not even open the briefs lawyers filed to prepare him to hear a case until hours before the case was argued, and he frequently spent just a few hours crafting opinions that would govern all other courts in the country. He labeled President Franklin roosevelt that crippled son-of-a-bitch. In the White house, and shunned his own nephew after the boy woke him up by playing jazz music on the radio. McReynolds was a petty tyrant. He ordered his staff never to smoke tobacco even on their free time, and dictated where they were allowed to live. During his frequent duck hunting trips, justice McReynolds would bring along his longtime servant Harry parker, and he would order Parker to wade through ice-cold water to retrieve the fallen animals in lieu of a bird dog. Though the two men often saw eye to eye on the constitution, Chief Justice taft dismissed McReynolds as inconsiderate of his colleagues and others, and contemptuous of everyone after serving on the same bench with him. And, above all, justice McReynolds was a bigot.
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Though Taney was far more moderate on the issue of slavery as final a young man — he once referred to slavery as a blot on our national character and he emancipated his own slaves — his views hardened in his old age. In 1857, the same year. Dred Scott, taney labeled the abolitionist movement northern aggression. Taney ranks second on this list solely due to the egregiousness of fields efforts to manipulate the constitution. The pre-civil War Constitution was, in the words of Justice Thurgood Marshall, defective from the start. It is not hard to imagine how Taney could read a constitution that contains explicit protections for the slave trade and the owners of escaped slaves and conclude that this document was intended to protect slavery.
Field, by contrast, took an amendment that was drafted to end racial apartheid and grant freed slaves all the blessings of citizenship, and he essentially rewrote it into a tool the most fortunate Americans could use to exploit others. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, dred Scott was an abominable decision, rooted in the notion that men and women of African descent had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order who are so far inferior that they had. It swept far beyond the question presented in that case to offer a philosophic defense of white supremacy and chattel slavery. And it fully deserves its reputation as the courts worst decision. 3) Justice james Clark McReynolds, credit: Library of Congress. I describe justice james Clark McReynoldss unique blend of self-centered bigotry.
Justice field never became president, but he worked as a justice to implement the very same policies his campaign promised that he would support if elected to the White house. Field joined the courts pro-segregation decision. Ferguson, and he authored another opinion permitting former Confederate officials to practice law in federal court (his presidential campaign would later tout this opinion as proof that he would appeal to southern whites if he received the democratic nomination). The cause of fields life, however, was neutering the governments power to enact economic and business regulation. In the 1870s, for example, nearly all grain grown in the midwest was shipped through Chicago, where nine firms owned the citys grain warehouses and they colluded among themselves to charge monopolists rates to farmers.
When Illinois enacted a law forbidding this price gouging, however, field responded with an angry dissenting opinion labeling this law a bold assertion of absolute power by the State to control at its discretion the property and business of the citizen. Years later, after Congress enacted a modest income tax on upper-income earners, field complained that it was an assault upon capital which will be but the stepping-stone to others, larger and more sweeping, till our political contests will become a war of the poor against. Fields vision of the court as the enemy of business regulation did not gain ascendance until shortly before his death in 1899, and field would not live to see the early twentieth century decisions striking down minimum wages, protections for unions and federal child labor. Field did more than any other justice to lay the groundwork for these decisions, however, and many of them followed the same fabricated interpretations of the constitution that once animated fields dissents. 2) Chief Justice roger Taney, any list of terrible supreme court justices that does not begin with Chief Justice roger Taney will inherently be controversial. Taney authored what is widely viewed as the worst single decision in the supreme courts history, the pro-slavery decision.
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As the books jacket explains, the justices of the supreme court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the confederacy. Nor is the modern court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale. Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the constitution. Based on my review of over 150 years of Supreme court history. Injustices, here are the five jurists who stand out as the worst justices in American history: 1) Justice Stephen Johnson Field, as a sitting justice in 1880, plan justice Stephen Johnson field launched a dark horse bid for the democratic Partys presidential nomination. Claiming that the chilling shadow of the empire was descending upon the United States, field fronted an anti-government campaign that would make all but the most strident modern day tea partiers blush. The old Constitution, fields campaign warned in a pamphlet that traced Americas original sin at least as far back as the john Adams administration, has been buried under the liberal interpretations of Federalist-Republican Congresses and administrations, grasping doubtful powers and making each step towards centralization. At a time when memories of Reconstruction still burned hot in the minds of southern white supremacists, fields campaign argued that he was the proper candidate of the party whose life-giving principle is that of local self-government.
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The five worst Supreme court Justices In American History
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