Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: August 12, 1795

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

8/12/1795: Chief Justice John Rutledge takes judicial oath.

Chief Justice John Rutledge



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  1. A slaveholder, of course.

    Was the Great Compromise of 1787 really hammered out between Rutledge and Roger Sherman in the taproom of the Indian Queen? Was the guy who kept offering to grind pepper (first into the onion rings, then the salad, then the leg of lamb . . . and finally even into the apple pie) actually a Madison spy?

    Before the Civil War, all Chief Justices were slaveholders, except for Taney, who was a vociferous defender of slavery, and Oliver Ellsworth (who was only there for five years). During all that time, a majority of the Justices were slaveholders.

    1. “of course” is odd. Why “of course”?

  2. Looks like he is related to Emperor Palpatine.

  3. He took the oath of office at the Supreme Court on the 12th, took his seat, and then the Court adjourned for the day. He then presided as Chief Justice for the next 10 days in which the Court met during the August 1795 Term. On two of those days the Court opened and then adjourned because the attorney arguing Talbot v. Jansen was indisposed. Meaning he sat as Chief Justice during open court for a total of 8 full days.

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