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Dwight D. Eisenhower Supreme Court candidates

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Title: Dwight D. Eisenhower Supreme Court candidates  
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Subject: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Warren G. Harding Supreme Court candidates, Herbert Hoover Supreme Court candidates, Eisenhower commemorative dollar, Second inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower
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Dwight D. Eisenhower Supreme Court candidates

During his two terms in office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed five members of the Supreme Court of the United States: Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Associate Justices John Marshall Harlan, William Brennan, Charles Evans Whittaker, and Potter Stewart.

Earl Warren nomination

Earl Warren as governor of California

Chief Justice Fred Vinson died in office on September 8, 1953. Eisenhower appointed California Governor Earl Warren as Chief Justice on Oct 5, 1953 by using a recess appointment.[1] In 1952 Warren had stood as a "favorite son" candidate of California for the Republican nomination for President, but withdrew in support of Eisenhower. Warren was reported to have offered to support Eisenhower's campaign in return for an appointment to the Supreme Court at the first possible opportunity. Eisenhower wanted a conservative justice and commented of Warren that "he represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court.... He has a national name for integrity, uprightness, and courage that, again, I believe we need on the Court".[2] Warren was formally nominated on January 11, 1954 and was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 1, 1954 by voice vote.[3] Eisenhower later called Warren's appointment "the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made".[4]

John Marshall Harlan nomination

Following the death of Justice Robert H. Jackson on October 9, 1954, Eisenhower nominated John Marshall Harlan II on November 9, 1954. Harlan had at the time been sitting on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for only nine months.[5] On being nominated, the reticent Harlan called reporters into his chambers in New York, and stated, in full, "I am very deeply honored."[6] The United States Senate did not initially act on his nomination, and Eisenhower had to renominate Harlan on January 10. Harlan's nomination came shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education,[7] declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, James Eastland, and several southern senators delayed his confirmation, because they (correctly) believed that he would support desegregation of the schools and civil rights.[8] Unlike almost all previous Supreme Court nominees, Harlan appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions relating to his judicial views. Every Supreme Court nominee since Harlan has been questioned by the Judiciary Committee before confirmation.[9] The Senate finally confirmed him on March 17, 1955 by a vote of 71–11.[10] He took his seat on March 28, 1955.[11] Of the eleven senators who voted against his appointment, nine were from the South.

William Brennan and Charles Evans Whittaker nominations

Due to ill health, Justice [12] Minton retired only a month before its traditional opening, and less than a month before the Presidential election of 1956, both of which rushed the process to find a replacement.[13] On October 16, 1956, Eisenhower used a recess appoint to seat William Brennan.[1] Presidential advisers thought the appointment of a Catholic Democrat from the Northeast would woo critical voters in the upcoming election for Eisenhower, a Republican.[14]

Brennan gained the attention of Eisenhower's attorney general and chief legal affairs adviser, Herbert Brownell, when Brennan had to give a speech at a conference (as a substitute for New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Vanderbilt).[15] To Brownell, Brennan's speech seemed to suggest a marked conservatism, especially on criminal matters.[15] Other factors playing into Brennan's appointment were his Catholicism, his status as a state court judge (no state judge had been appointed to the High Court since Benjamin Cardozo in 1932), and Eisenhower's desire to appear bipartisan after his appointments of justices Earl Warren and John Marshall Harlan II.[16] Brennan was formally nominated on January 14, 1957.

Before Brennan's nomination was considered by the Congress, Justice Stanley Forman Reed announced his retirement from the Court on February 25, 1957, citing old age. Reed was 73 years old,[17] but had also begun to feel that the Court's jurisprudential center had shifted too far away from him, and that he was losing his effectiveness.[18] Within a week of Reed's retirement, on March 2, 1957, Eisenhower nominated Charles Evans Whittaker to succeed Reed.[19] Both Brennan and Whittaker were confirmed by voice vote in the United States Senate on March 19, 1957.[3]

Potter Stewart nomination

Harold Hitz Burton resigned from the Court due to ill health on October 13, 1958. Five days later, on October 18, 1958, Eisenhower used a recess appointment to seat Potter Stewart on the Court.[1] Eisenhower had previously appointed Stewart to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in 1954. Stewart was formally nominated on January 17, 1959 and was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 5, 1959 by a vote of 70-17.[3]

Names mentioned

Following is a list of individuals who were mentioned in various news accounts and books as having been considered by Eisenhower for a Supreme Court appointment:

United States Supreme Court (elevation to Chief Justice)

United States Courts of Appeals

Courts of Appeals

United States District Courts

State Supreme Courts

Executive Branch officials

State Governors

See also


  1. ^ a b c Michael Brus, What Is a Recess Appointment?, (June 14, 1999).
  2. ^ , ed. L. Galambos and D. van Ee, doc. 460. World Wide Web facsimile by The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission of the print edition; Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996The Papers of Dwight David EisenhowerPersonal and confidential To Milton Stover Eisenhower, 9 October 1953. In . Accessed 12 October 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Supreme Court Nominations, 1789-present,
  4. ^ Todd S., Purdum (July 5, 2005). "Presidents, Picking Justices, Can Have Backfires". Courts in Transition: Nominees and History ( 
  5. ^ "Marshall, John Harlan". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, David E. (September 24, 1971). A lawyer's judge; John Marshall Harlan"'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-17.  (fee for article)
  7. ^ 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
  8. ^ Dorsen, 2006
  9. ^ "United States Senate. Nominations". United States Senate. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  10. ^ Epstein, 2005
  11. ^ Dorsen, 2002, pp. 139–143
  12. ^ Oyez Project, Supreme Court media, Sherman Minton.
  13. ^ Eisler, Kim Isaac, A Justice for All: William J. Brennan, Jr., and the decisions that transformed America ( New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 90. ISBN 0-671-76787-9
  14. ^ James Taranto, Leonard Leo (2004). Presidential Leadership. Wall Street Journal Books. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  15. ^ a b Eisler, a Justice for All, page 85, ISBN 0-671-76787-9
  16. ^ Eisler, a Justice for All, page 84, ISBN 0-671-76787-9
  17. ^ Huston, "Justice Reed, 72, to Retire From the Supreme Court," New York Times, February 1, 1957; "Justice Reed Retires From Supreme Court," New York Times, February 26, 1957.
  18. ^ Fassett, New Deal Justice: The Life of Stanley Reed of Kentucky, 1994.
  19. ^ "Federal Judge in Missouri Named to Supreme Court," New York Times, March 3, 1957.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Yalof, David Alistair. Pursuit of Justices: Presidential Politics and the Selection of Supreme Court Nominees. University of Chicago Press.  
  21. ^ a b c d e Nichols, David. A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution. Simon & Schuster.  

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