William Howard Taft was the first and only U.S. President to also serve as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His newest claim to fame: he has joined the roster as the fifth racing president at Nationals Park.
Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, Taft served as Chief Justice until February 3,1930. Arguably, Justice Taft’s greatest legacy was his role in improving the administrative efficiency of the U.S. Courts. Two significant reforms during his tenure include the establishment of the predecessor to the Judicial Conference of the United States and his push to narrow the Supreme Court’s mandatory jurisdiction, embodied in the Judiciary Act of 1925 (43 Stat 936).
Time will tell how #27 (aptly nicknamed “Big Chief”) will transfer his judicial acumen to challenge the often illicit antics of his more seasoned rivals.
In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Law Library will closed on Monday, January 21.
The MLK holiday became federal law fifteen years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it took another 17 years for nationwide recognition. In 1994, the holiday was designated a day of service under the direction of the Corporation for National and Community Service. For resources about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visit the King Center Website.
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. One of his many claims to fame was his participation in the Constitutional Convention at age 81. The highly quoted Franklin said this (as transcribed by James Madison, September 17, 1787) about his support for the intensely debated Constitution:
I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution: For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage of their joint Wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those Men all their Prejudices, their Passions, their Errors of Opinion, their local Interests, and their selfish Views. From such an Assembly can a perfect Production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this System approaching so near to Perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our Enemies, who are waiting with Confidence to hear that our Councils are confounded, like those of the Builders of Babel, and that our States are on the Point of Separation, only to meet hereafter for the Purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor has written a new autobiography, My Beloved World. She discussed her life in a Sixty Minutes interview aired Sunday, available here. Also recommended is a 2009 interview with Justice Sotomayor that is part of C-Span’s excellent series: Justices in Their Own Words.
Last month’s issue of the ABA Journal includes the sixth annual list of the top 100 blawgs as well as an “Inaugural Blawg 100 Hall of Fame.”
The newly inducted members of the Hall of Fame are:
And, after online voting for favorites from the top 100, here are the winners in their respective categories:
This month marks the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Signed by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the document states, in part:
. . . [O]n the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom . . . .
Lincoln invoked his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to institute a necessary war measure against the rebellion of southern states. The “military necessity” was to deprive the rebelling states of labor resources thereby weakening the Confederate Army. (See Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War, by Burrus M. Carnahan, for a detailed discussion of Lincoln’s legal theory).
Some interesting resources about Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation include:
Westlaw is hosting a “Welcome Back” table tomorrow, January 8, 11:30 am -1:00 pm. Students can stop by for sweets and Westlaw goodies — and those who show a document on WestlawNext will receive 100 points and entered to win a pack of four top law movies. Questions? Contact our Thompson Reuters Account Manager, Annemarie Milton.
Thursday, January 3 – Saturday, January 5
- Thursday & Friday 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Reference Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Thursday – Friday