Last modified on December 23, 2020, at 22:08

James McReynolds

James McReynolds
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: August 29, 1914 – January 31, 1941
Nominator Woodrow Wilson
Predecessor Horace Lurton
Successor James F. Byrnes
Party Democrat

James McReynolds was a Supreme Court Justice between 1914 and 1941.

He was born on February 3, 1862, in Kentucky. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, then he studied law at the University of Virginia. After graduating in 1884, he went on to work for Howell Jackson, a Tennessee senator. Later he moved to Washington D.C. where he worked for the Attorney General. He practiced law in New York, and in 1913, he was named Attorney General by Woodrow Wilson.

According to President & Chief Justice William Howard Taft, Wilson was disappointed in the attitude of (McReynolds) (because) "Mr. Wilson is in favor of a latitudinarian construction of the Constitution of the United States to weaken the protection it should afford against socialistic raids upon property rights, with the direct and inevitable result of paralyzing the initiative and enterprise of capital necessary to the real progress of all."

McReynolds was selected by Taft to write the Judiciary Act of 1925 (often called the "Judges Bill"), together with Justices Van deVanter and Sutherland.

McReynolds was also noted for his staunch anti-Semitism; he refused to speak to fellow justice Benjamin Cardozo and did not attend the swearing-in of Felix Frankfurter.

He was one of the "Four Horsemen" who was willing to declare as unconstitutional the liberal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. He was adamant about the policy of laissez faire; he believed the Constitution supported it.

McReynolds never married. He died on August 24, 1946.


1. * 2. * William Howard Taft, Mr. Wilson and the Campaign, 10 Yale Rev. 1, 19-20 (1921).