Hugo Black

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Hugo Black
HugoBlack.jpg
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: August 18, 1937 – September 17, 1971
Nominator Franklin D. Roosevelt
Predecessor Willis Van Devanter
Successor Lewis Powell
Former U.S. Senator from Alabama
From: March 4, 1927 – August 19, 1937
Predecessor Oscar W. Underwood
Successor Dixie B. Graves
Information
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Josephine Foster (1921-1951)
Elizabeth Seay DeMeritte (1957-death)

Hugo LaFayette Black (February 27, 1886 – September 25, 1971) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, he served from August 19, 1937 – September 17, 1971.

Early career

Before his political career he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. In 1921 Black successfully defended E. R. Stephenson in his trial for the murder of a Catholic priest, Fr. James E. Coyle.[1]

U.S. Senate

He had previously served as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from 1927–1937, winning the 1926 election[2] and re-election in 1932.[3] Black built his winning Senate campaign around multiple appearances at KKK meetings.

Black was an adamant supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his liberal New Deal programs, having drafted the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Even prior to Roosevelt's tenure, Black advocated establishing a minimum wage. He supported Roosevelt's 1937 scheme to pack the court, which ultimately failed due to bipartisan backlash.

Black opposed anti-lynching legislation.[4] He filibustered them[5] and voted twice in 1937 to kill the Copeland rider amendments.[6][7]

In 1935, Black was part of the Southern Democratic filibuster against the Costigan–Wagner Act (also known as the Anti-Lynching Bill of 1935). However, unlike colleagues who employed racial (in the case of demagogues such as "Cotton Ed" Smith) or constitutional (including Walter F. George) arguments, Black bizarrely attacked the Act as an anti-labor conspiracy which would undermine unions.[8]

Supreme Court

Hugo black kkk.jpeg

Black was nominated by Roosevelt to the United States Supreme Court in August 1937. Civil rights groups including the NAACP demanded answers on his KKK membership. A month after being confirmed by the Senate, it was then confirmed by the Pittsburg Post-Gazette that he had been a member of the Klan. He refused to resign despite a national uproar which included hundreds protesting against him. He responded to these calls for resignation on October 1, 1937 in a radio address where he admitted to being a liberal.[9]

As a Supreme Court Justice, Black was completely opposed to:

Justice Black was the leading proponent of incorporation doctrine, and often insisted on a literalist interpretation of the Bill of Rights, and he dissented from Griswold v. Connecticut.

Black was well known for his anti-Catholic viewpoints,[10] and was profoundly influenced by the writings of Paul Blanshard, a socialist.[11][12][13] In Korematsu v. the United States, Black voted to uphold President Roosevelt's mass arrests and incarceration of Japanese men, women, and children based on race.

However, in an apparent public shift from his Klan past, Black concurred in the unanimous landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education which ordered the desegregation of public schools in the United States.

Unethical conduct

On June 10, 1946, esteemed Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson publicly accused Black of unethical conduct for having conflicts of interests in which Black cast deciding votes, and for pressuring the Court to issue a premature decision for benefit of the labor union side.[14]

See also

References

  1. Garrison, Greg (August 10, 2018). Killing of Birmingham priest in 1921 remembered at cathedral. al.org. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  2. AL US Senate Race - Nov 03, 1926. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  3. AL US Senate Race - Nov 08, 1932. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  4. The Controversy of Justice Hugo Black. fascinatingpolitics.com. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  5. Morgan, Thad (October 10, 2018). How an Ex-KKK Member Made His Way Onto the U.S. Supreme Court. history.com. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  6. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 69, THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT. THE AMEND. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED HOUSE BILL 1507, THE ANTILYNCHING BILL, TO S. 69, A BILL LIMITING THE SIZE OF TRAINS IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  7. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 2475. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED THE ANTILYNCHING BILL AS PERFECTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY TO THE PENDING LEGISLATION.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  8. Greenbaum, Fred (1967). "The Anti-Lynching Bill of 1935: The Irony of "Equal Justice—Under Law"," p. 79–82. Internet Archive. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  9. https://youtu.be/p7BaRRPh428
  10. The Oxford Handbook of Church and State in the United States
  11. Hugo Black: A Biography
  12. Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State
  13. Witnessing Their Faith: Religious Influence on Supreme Court Justices and Their Opinions
  14. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3109625

External links