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Learned HandThe Man and the Judge$
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Gerald Gunther

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377774.001.0001

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The Last Chance for a Supreme Court Appointment: The 1942 Vacancy

The Last Chance for a Supreme Court Appointment: The 1942 Vacancy

(p.475) 13. The Last Chance for a Supreme Court Appointment: The 1942 Vacancy
Learned Hand

Gerald Gunther

Oxford University Press

This chapter details Learned Hand's final opportunity to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Hand's opportunity to attain a seat on the United States Supreme Court came in the fall of 1942, when he was nearly seventy-one. The nation was embroiled in a war whose outcome was still uncertain. The pervasive domestic impact of the war effort touched even the composition of the Supreme Court that fall, when at the beginning of October, President Roosevelt persuaded James F. Byrnes to resign from the Court in order to become director of the Office of Economic Stabilization. With the new vacancy created by Byrnes' resignation, several friends of Hand, led by Felix Frankfurter and Charles C. Burlingham, launched a massive campaign to persuade President Roosevelt to name Hand to the Court. But on January 11, 1943, the White House announced that Wiley Rutledge of Iowa was the president's choice. Rutledge was twenty-two years younger than Hand, only forty-eight years old in 1943. For the rest of their lives, both Frankfurter and Burlingham were convinced that Hand was not named to the Supreme Court in 1942 solely because of Roosevelt's preoccupation with the age issue and the constraints imposed by the hobgoblin of consistency.

Keywords:   World War II, judges, Supreme Court, Roosevelt, James F. Byrnes, Felix Frankfurter, Charles C. Burlingham, Wiley Rutledge

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