Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: May 26, 1868


5/26/1868: Senate acquitted President Andrew Johnson and adjourned as court of impeachment. Chief Justice Chase presided over that trial. Johnson is one of four presidents that did not appoint any Supreme Court Justices. The others are William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Jimmy Carter.

President Andrew Johnson

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  1. Carter was the only president to serve a full term and not get to appoint anyone. For 24 years only Republicans got to appoint Justices. We’re still living with the consequences.

    1. Yes, starting with Earl Warren….

      1. Starting with Warren Burger. Then: Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens, O’Connor, Rehnquist again, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas.

  2. While many say Jackson, the similarities between Trump and Johnson are uncanny…

    “When Johnson challenged listeners to “place a finger upon one act of mine…in violation of the Constitution,” the crowd roared “NEW ORLEANS!” a reminder of the white supremacist violence that had bloodied that city’s streets only months before. Some shouted, “Hang Jeff Davis!”

    “Why don’t you hang him?” Johnson replied. “Why don’t you hang Thad Sevens and [abolitionist] Wendell Phillips?” Johnson’s companions wondered why he didn’t simply shut up. When Doolittle criticized the president’s deportment, Johnson shot back, “I don’t care about my dignity” and delivered what one paper called “the most disgraceful [speech] ever delivered by any President of the United States.” The New York Times said its editors “greatly regretted” Johnson’s casual dismissal of his dignity.

    1. Johnson was probably drunk when he said that. Trump was sober.

  3. The reason Johnson didn’t get to appoint any justices is because the Republicans passed a law eliminating seats when a justice died so Johnson couldn’t appoint justices. Otherwise he could have appointed two. Instead the court went down to seven justices. When Grant became president, it went back to nine. Harrison, Taylor and Carter were just unlucky. I’m a little surprise Garfield had time to appoint a Justice before he was shot.

  4. Garfield’s appointee was Stanley Matthews who wrote the opinion on Yick Wo v. Hopkins.

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