Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: June 14, 1810

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

6/14/1810: Justice Ward Hunt's birthday.

Justice Ward Hunt

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  1. Wikipedia:

    “Hunt had little impact on the court, siding with the majority in all but 22 cases in his ten years on the job and writing only four dissenting opinions. His most notable contribution came while riding circuit in New York, where he presided over The United States v. Susan B. Anthony. Citing the 14th Amendment, Susan B. Anthony argued that she was constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote and had not broken the law when she voted in the 1872 election. Justice Hunt refused to allow Anthony to testify on her own behalf, allowed statements given by her at the time of her arrest to be allowed as “testimony,” explicitly ordered the jury to return a guilty verdict, refused to poll the jury afterwards, and read an opinion he had written before the trial even started. Hunt found that Anthony had indeed broken the law and fined Anthony $100 (which she refused to pay).

    In 1878, Hunt suffered a severe paralyzing stroke, which prevented him from attending court sessions or rendering opinions. Nonetheless he did not retire, because at the time in order to retire with a full pension a person had to put in at least ten years of government service and a minimum age of 70.”

    (footnotes omitted)

    Some might choose a different June 14 in Supreme Court history: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.

    1. Barnette would be decided differently if argued before today’s Court.

      Thanks for this. I remember a dramatization of the Anthony trial on TV — I think on Walter Cronkite’s “You Are There”. When the judge ordered a guilty verdict, I remember thinking, Can judges do that?

      (“It was a day just like any other day which alters and illuminates our lives. Except — You Are There!”)

      1. I do not understand the choice of Justice Hunt’s birth over the Barnette decision — unless one liked the Susan B. Anthony result better than the flag-and-pledge result.

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