Four Transformative Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is more than a page in a Presidential library these Justices directly impact the United States. They are representations of their time periods, and the manifesting political philosophies of the time. Four Supreme Court Justices that could be argued to encapsulate these premises are Chief Justice Taft, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Chief Justice Taft the only Justice in American history to have been both President, and a Supreme Court Justice (Freilder and Sidey) . Taft had a long and controversial political career born to a popular judge he attended Yale (Friedler and Sidey). In 1900 President McKinley “”sent him (Taft) to the Philippines as chief civil administrator. Sympathetic toward the Filipinos, he improved the economy, built roads and schools, and gave the people at least some participation in government. (Friedler and Sidey). After nearly a decade President Roosevelt provided Taft with the opportunity to the position of Secretary of War (Friedler and Sidey). One year later Taft became the Republican nominee during a schism in the Republican Party. This schism provided a pugilistic bout between economic progressives and laissez-faire, but somehow Taft was able to appeal to both (Friedler and Sidey). Taft managed to upset both philosophies, and as a result he lost the Presidency (Friedler and Sidey). However, nine years later he would find himself as a Supreme Court Justice appointed by Warren Harding (Randolph). While Taft used the bully pulpit to bring more antitrust suits than Roosevelt, if one looked at his Supreme Court record it would be hard to believe (Post 1517). Taft as a Chief Justice passionately believed in the endorsement of federalism and judicial conservatism, some examples include but are not limited to: Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. (259 U.S. 20 1922), Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (261 U.S. 525 1923), and Roller v. Fidelity Trust Co. (263 U.S. 413 1923). Bailey v. Drexel is a very good indicator of how conservative the court acted; and this is because the Bailey case is about a child labor tax, any commerce employing a child under the age of fourteen would face a ten percent punitive tax of their profits (259 U. S. 20 1922). Consequently, Taft stated the tax was a penalty, and thus this tax was slain by the stroke of the pen (259 U.S. 20 1922). In Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (261 U.S. 525) Congress passed a law providing females and children with a basic wage while providing their services to the children’s hospital in Washington DC. The Taft court decided congress was wrong to meddle with the payments from the hospital, because it constrained women and children’s ability to contract (261 U.S. 525). Finally, the federalist front Roller v. Fidelity Trust Co, this case promulgates that congress did not have the authority to grant Federal district courts the per-view of appealed state court cases (263 U.S. 413 1923). This judicial ideology while prominent before the new deal, and during the new deal is seeing a resurgence in modern times. Taft’s reign ended in 1930, but before he left the court and his life, he lobbied congress to give the Supreme Court a home (). Thus, he transformed the court.

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Earl Warren from a young age decided he would be a lawyer, and he committed to that determination (Oyez). At the age of twenty three Warren became a lawyer, and this would be the burgeoning of his legal and political career (Oyez). 10 years after becoming a lawyer he was selected to be an officer of the court, and after pursuing three terms (which he won) he strived for something larger and in 1942 he became governor of California (Oyez). Consequently he won the governorship consecutively for three terms, and three years after his last gubernatorial race Eisenhower placed him on the Supreme Court bench (Oyez). Warren being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1950’s meant it was inevitably going to deal with controversy, because at this time the civil rights movement was starting to gain traction once more. Three cases that really highlight the Warren court’s liberal judicial philosophy are: Brown v. Board (347 U.S. 483 1954), Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479 1965), and Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436 1966). Brown v. Board overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, and was the initial move to dismantling systemic governmental racism. Thurgood Marshall argued this case, and it had to be re-argued before the court could come to a decision (Oyez). In the end the decision was decided unanimously the Warren court stated, “”We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. . . and Chief Justice Warren made it known how quickly he wanted desegregation to be enforced in Brown II “”… with all deliberate speed. (Brown v. Board 347 U.S. 1954) (Brown II v. Board 349 U.S. 294 1955). As a result of his Supreme Court appointee making this decision, Eisenhower still won his reelection in a landslide, but he lost the south. The Warren Court from the Eisenhower administration to the Johnson administration would have numerous impactful decisions; and one of the next influential decisions is Griswold v. Connecticut. A contraceptive center opened in Connecticut, but the opening of this center broke a law in Connecticut that was nearly a hundred years old (Oyez). This decision conceived the right to privacy, “”In other words, the First Amendment has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion. (Griswold v. Connecticut 381 U.S. 479 1965). Miranda v. Arizona has become a societal staple, and it all is derived from the consequence that the police interrogated Miranda without informing him of his right to representation (Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 1966). This case was narrowly decided, and at the time stirred a lot of controversy. Warren would retire in 1969, and would die just five years after in 1974 (Oyez). He transformed the court in numerous ways, but the first way he did so was the resulting ruling of Brown v. Board which can be interpreted that justice would finally start to be blind in the United States.

Thurgood Marshall unlike the others on this list, Justice Marshall was not a Chief Justice, but instead he was an associate Justice. Thurgood Marshall is the first appointed black Supreme Court Justice in United States history. Justice Marshall “”… was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2, 1908, after growing up surrounded by racial discrimination it did not stop anytime soon he applied to a law school, but was turned down due to his skin color (Oyez). Following this he graduated at the top of his class, and became heavily involved with the NAACP (Oyez). Eventually in 1961, Marshall found himself appointed to a circuit court of appeals by the Kennedy administration; and four years later the Johnson administration would appoint Marshall to be Solicitor General (Oyez). Two years later Marshall would find himself appointed to the Supreme Court, and all of this was definitely a consequence of his stellar accomplishments in the south in regards to pushing for civil rights (Oyez). While far from the most prolific author in the Supreme Court his votes were important in cases, and his personality is strongly missed. Thurgood Marshall going all the way back to high school was known a prankster, and had a good sense of humor (Oyez). In the case of Gregg v. Georgia, Marshall provides a dissenting opinion and sometimes a dissent can be just as important as a assenting majority opinion. This is largely because dissents can be inspirations or insights to future overturned precedence. Gregg v. Georgia overturned Furman v. Georgia, and can be interpreted as a referendum on the Furman decision. The vote was 7-2, and Thurgood Marshall staying true to his beliefs found the death penalty not only to be illegal due to the eighth amendment, but he stated about the morality of the death penalty “”In Furman, I observed that the American people are largely unaware of the information critical to a judgment on the morality of the death penalty, and concluded that, if they were better informed, they would consider it shocking, unjust, and unacceptable. (Gregg v. Georgia 428 U.S. 153 1976). Thurgood Marshall’s contributions to the civil rights movement were vast, and immeasurable for those struggling to attain freedom from the oppressive thumb of Jim Crow. Marshall had a progressive judicial philosophy and he believed the constitution to be a living document (Oyez). Marshall transformed the court with his personality, and his outlook having endured extreme racial discrimination (Oyez).

Chief Justice John Roberts is the replacement to Chief Justice Rehnquist, and is a George W. Bush appointment made in 2005. John Roberts unlike the last two Justices, but like Justice Taft has reigned over a conservative court. John Roberts attended a boarding school and found himself at Harvard Law, and from here he had a large political career (Oyez). For example, he clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist, and George H. W. Bush eventually appointed him to solicitor general (Oyez). John Roberts briefly left the private practice until George W. Bush won the election, and then following this election Roberts was appointed to the court of appeals (Oyez). Then after the Bush administrations reelection Roberts was nominated in 2005, and then the Senate confirmed him, and since then he has been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Oyez). Three Roberts decisions that are essential in understanding the modern court include, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sibelius, and Trump v. Hawaii. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was decided in 2010, and the case was about a complaint brought by the plaintiff Citizens United about the defendant the Federal Election Commission. Citizens United disagreed with campaign regulations, in particular codes 203, 201, and 311. These codes state that corporations and labor unions can not fund things like political documentaries, it also states that the source of funding must be disclosed (Citizens United v. FEC 558 U.S. 310 2010). National Independent Business v. Sibelius had several constitutional questions, but the focal point and perhaps the most surprising ruling was on Congress’s ability to levy a tax on those that didn’t want to acquire health care. John Roberts ruled in favor of Congress’s ability to tax, and he was the tie vote. Why is this important? To put it succinctly John Roberts believes in the government’s ability to pass laws, and furthermore it’s ability to accomplish certain things (Dean). Which leads to Trump v. Hawaii and the controversial travel ban as well as the Supreme Court upholding this executive order. John Roberts is still a conservative Justice, and just because he doesn’t strike down every act of Congress doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his own judicial and personal philosophy at play. Not to mention the powers of the President’s travel ban had laid at the Supreme Court’s door step. John Roberts is a conservative Justice, but he is not as conservative as Scalia, Alito, or Thomas. He has transformed the court in a more conservative direction.

Taft had it the best growing up, followed by John Roberts, then Earl Warren, and finally Thurgood Marshall. Chief Justice Taft and Chief Justice Roberts have a lot in common, and would probably get a long handsomely on the modern court. Thurgood Marshall and Warren did share the bench very briefly, and they were pretty similar in judicial ideology. Three out of four of these Justices are Republicans, one of them was a Democrat. However, two out of four of these Justices were philosophically liberal showing that party is not necessarily always a good indicator of a Justice. Each Justice added something to the court, and transformed it in their own unique ways. Chief Justice Taft was astonishing in the sense that he was an extremely conservative Justice, but a somewhat progressive President. The amount of written opinions authored by Thurgood Marshall was also pretty surprising, because his opinion library appears minuscule.

Works Cited

“”William Howard Taft. The White House, The United States Government, www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/william-howard-taft/.

Frank Freidel and Hugh Side Presidents of the United States of AmericaPaperback (17th Ed edition). Scala Publishers, 2006

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Downes, Randolph. The Rise of Warren Gamaliel Harding: 1865-1920. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1970;

Earl Warren.”” Oyez, 10 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/justices/earl_warren.

“”Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1).”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/347us483.

“”Griswold v. Connecticut.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/1964/496.

“”Miranda v. Arizona.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/1965/759.

“”Thurgood Marshall.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/justices/thurgood_marshall.

“”Gregg v. Georgia.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/1975/74-6257.

“”John G. Roberts, Jr.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/justices/john_g_roberts_jr.

“”Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2008/08-205.

“”National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2011/11-393.

“”Trump v. Hawaii.”” Oyez, 12 Sep. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2017/17-965.

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