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Lowest Price you'll find his this quality.Letter with raised gold Executive Chamber logo.Four page lettersheet. other pages blank.Very Fine, fresh. Horizontal fold in middle to fit in envelope.Scan accentuates it.Displays well.Charles Evans HughesFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to search).Charles Evans HughesHughes in 193111thChief Justice of the United StatesIn office
February 24, 1930– June 30, 1941[1]Nominated byHerbert HooverPreceded byWilliam Howard TaftSucceeded byHarlan F. Stone44thUnited States Secretary of StateIn office
March 5, 1921– March 4, 1925PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin CoolidgePreceded byBainbridge ColbySucceeded byFrank B. KelloggAssociate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United StatesIn office
October 10, 1910– June 10, 1916[1]Nominated byWilliam Howard TaftPreceded byDavid Josiah BrewerSucceeded byJohn Hessin Clarke36thGovernor of New YorkIn office
January 1, 1907– October 6, 1910LieutenantLewis Stuyvesant Chanler
Horace WhitePreceded byFrank W. HigginsSucceeded byHorace WhitePersonal detailsBornApril 11, 1862
Glens Falls, New York, U.S.DiedAugust 27, 1948(aged86)
Osterville, Massachusetts, U.S.Political partyRepublicanSpouse(s)Antoinette Carter​​(m.1888; died1945)​Children4, University
Brown University(AB)
Columbia University(LLB)Signature

Charles Evans Hughes Sr.(April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, politician and jurist who served as the 11thChief Justice of the United Statesfrom 1930 to 1941. A member of theRepublican Party, he previously was the 36thGovernor of New York(1907–1910), an associate justice of the Supreme Court (1910–1916), and 44thU.S. Secretary of State(1921–1925), as well as the Republican nominee forPresident of the United Statesin the1916 presidential election.

Born to aWelshimmigrant preacher and his wife inGlens Falls, New York, Hughes graduated fromBrown UniversityandColumbia Law Schooland practiced law inNew York City. After working in private practice for several years, in 1905 he led successful state investigations intopublic utilitiesand the life insurance industry. He won election as the Governor of New York in 1906, and implemented severalprogressivereforms. In 1910, PresidentWilliam Howard Taftappointed Hughes as anAssociate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Hughes often joined Associate JusticeOliver Wendell Holmes voting to uphold state and federal regulations.

Hughes served as an Associate Justice until 1916, when he resigned from the bench to accept the Republican presidential nomination. Though Hughes was widely viewed as the favorite in the race against incumbentDemocraticPresidentWoodrow Wilson, Wilson won a narrow victory. AfterWarren G. Hardingwon the1920 presidential election, Hughes accepted Harding's invitation to serve as Secretary of State. Serving under Harding andCalvin Coolidge, he negotiated theWashington Naval Treaty, which was designed to prevent a naval arms race among the United States, theUnited KingdomandJapan. Hughes left office in 1925 and returned to private practice, becoming one of the most prominent attorneys in the country.

In 1930, PresidentHerbert Hooverappointed him to succeed Chief Justice Taft. Along with Associate JusticeOwen Roberts, Hughes emerged as a key swing vote on the bench, positioned between the liberalThree Musketeersand the conservativeFour Horsemen. TheHughes Courtstruck down severalNew Dealprograms in the early and the mid-1930s, but 1937 marked a turning point for the Supreme Court and the New Deal as Hughes and Roberts joined with the Three Musketeers to uphold the Wagner Act and a state minimum wage law. That same year saw the defeat of theJudicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court. Hughes served until 1941, when he retired and was succeeded by Associate JusticeHarlan F. Stone.

  • Early life and family
Hughes at the age of 16

Hughes's father, David Charles Hughes, immigrated to the United States fromWalesin 1855 after he was inspired byThe Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. David became aBaptistpreacher inGlens Falls, New York, and married Mary Catherine Connelly, whose family had been in the United States for several generations.[2]Charles Evans Hughes, the only child of David and Mary, was born in Glens Falls on April 11, 1862.[3][4]The Hughes family moved toOswego, New York, in 1866, but relocated soon after toNewark, New Jersey, and then toBrooklyn. With the exception of a brief period of attendance at Newark High School, Hughes received no formal education until 1874, instead being educated by his parents. In September 1874, he enrolled in New York City's prestigious Public School 35, graduating the following year.[5]

At the age of 14, Hughes attended Madison University (nowColgate University) for two years before transferring toBrown University. He graduated from Brown third in his class at the age of 19, having been elected toPhi Beta Kappain his junior year. He was also a member of theDelta Upsilonfraternity, where he served as the first international President later on.[6]During his time at Brown, Hughes volunteered for the successful presidential campaign ofRepublicannomineeJames A. Garfield, a brother of his inDelta Upsilonwhere Garfield was an undergraduate atWilliams College, and served as the editor of the college newspaper. After graduating from Brown, Hughes spent a year working as a teacher inDelhi, New York.[7]He next enrolled inColumbia Law School, where he graduated first in his class in 1884.[6]That same year, he passed the New York bar exam with the highest score ever awarded by the state.[8]

In 1888, Hughes married Antoinette Carter, the daughter of the senior partner of the law firm where he worked. Their first child,Charles Evans Hughes Jr., was born the following year, and Hughes purchased a house in Manhattan'sUpper West Sideneighborhood.[9]Hughes and his wife had one son and three daughters.[10]Their youngest child,Elizabeth Hughes, was one of the first humans injected withinsulin, and later served as president of theSupreme Court Historical Society.[11]

Legal and academic careerHughes with his wife and children,c. 1916

Hughes took a position with theWall Streetlaw firm of Chamberlain, Carter & Hornblower in 1883, focusing primarily on matters related to contracts and bankruptcies. He was made a partner in the firm in 1888, and the firm changed its name to Carter, Hughes & Cravath (it later became known asHughes Hubbard & Reed). Hughes left the firm and became a professor atCornell Law Schoolfrom 1891 to 1893. He returned to Carter, Hughes & Cravath in 1893.[12]He also joined the board of Brown University and served on a special committee that recommended revisions to New York's Code of Civil Procedure.[13]

Responding to newspaper stories run by theNew York World, GovernorFrank W. Higginsappointed a legislative committee to investigate the state'spublic utilitiesin 1905. On the recommendation of a former state judge who had been impressed by Hughes's performance in court, the legislative committee appointed Hughes to lead the investigation. Hughes was reluctant to take on the powerful utility companies, but SenatorFrederick C. Stevens, the leader of the committee, convinced Hughes to accept the position. Hughes decided to center his investigation on Consolidated Gas, which controlled the production and sale of gas in New York City.[14]Though few expected the committee to have any impact on public corruption, Hughes was able to show that Consolidated Gas had engaged in a pattern of tax evasion and fraudulent bookkeeping. To eliminate or mitigate those abuses, Hughes drafted and convinced the state legislature to pass bills that established a commission to regulate public utilities and lowered gas prices.[15]

Hughes's success made him a popular public figure in New York, and he was appointed counsel to theArmstrong Insurance Commission, which investigated the majorlife insurancecompanies headquartered in New York.[16]His examination of the insurance industry uncovered payments made to journalists and lobbyists as well as payments and other forms of compensation directed to legislators serving throughout the country. His investigation also showed that many top insurance executives had various conflicts of interest and had received huge raises at the same time that dividends to policyholders had fallen. Seeking to remove Hughes from the investigation, Republican leaders nominated him as the party's candidate for Mayor of New York City, but Hughes refused the nomination. His efforts ultimately resulted in the resignation or firing of the most of the top-ranking officials in the three major life insurance companies in the United States.[17]Following the investigation, Hughes convinced the state legislature to bar insurance companies from owning corporate stock, underwriting securities, or engaging in other banking practices.[16]

Governor of New YorkGubernatorial portrait of Charles Evans Hughes

Seeking a strong candidate to defeat newspaper mogulWilliam Randolph Hearstin the1906 New York gubernatorial election, PresidentTheodore Rooseveltconvinced New York Republican leaders to nominate Hughes for governor. Roosevelt described Hughes as "a sane and sincere reformer, who really has fought against the very evils which Hearst denounces,... [but is] free from any taint of demagogy."[18]In his campaign for governor, Hughes attacked the corruption of specific companies but defended corporations as a necessary part of the economy. He also called for aneight-hour workdayon public works projects and favored prohibitions onchild labor.[19]Hughes was not a charismatic speaker, but he campaigned vigorously throughout the state and won the endorsements of most newspapers.[20]Ultimately, Hughes defeated Hearst in a close election, taking 52 percent of the vote.[19]

Hughes's governorship focused largely on reforming the government and addressing political corruption. He expanded the number of civil service positions, increased the power of the public utility regulatory commissions, and won passage of laws that placed limits on political donations by corporations and required political candidates to track campaign receipts and expenditures.[21]He also signed laws that barred younger workers from several dangerous occupations and established a maximum 48-hour workweek for manufacturing workers under the age of 16. To enforce those laws, Hughes reorganized theNew York State Department of Labor. Hughes's labor policies were influenced by economistRichard T. Ely, who sought to improve working conditions for laborers, but rejected the more far-reaching reforms favored by union leaders likeSamuel Gompers.[22]

Despite his busyness as New York governor, Hughes found time to get involved in religious matters. A lifelong Baptist, he participated in the creation of theNorthern Baptist Conventionin May 1907. Hughes served the convention as its first president, beginning the task of unifying the thousands of independent Baptist churches across the North into one denomination. Previously, northern Baptists had only connected between local churches through mission societies and benevolent causes. The Northern Baptist Convention went on to become the historically-importantAmerican Baptist Churches USA, which made this aspect of Hughes's life during his governorship a key part of his historical influence.[23][24]

However, Hughes's political role was changing. He had previously been close with Roosevelt, but relations between Hughes and the president cooled after a dispute over a minor federal appointment.[25]Roosevelt chose not to seek re-election in 1908, instead endorsing Secretary of WarWilliam Howard Taftas his preferred successor. Taft won the Republican presidential nomination and asked Hughes to serve as his running mate, but Hughes declined the offer. Hughes also considered retiring from the governorship, but Taft and Roosevelt convinced him to seek a second term. Despite having little support among some of the more conservative leaders of the state party, Hughes won re-election in the1908 election. Hughes's second term proved to be less successful than his first, but he increased regulation over telephone and telegraph companies and won passage of the firstworkers' compensationbill in U.S. history.[26]

Associate JusticeSee also:White Court (judges)Hughes struck up a close friendship with Associate JusticeOliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

By early 1910, Hughes was anxious to retire from his position as governor.[27]A vacancy on the Supreme Court arose following the death ofAssociate JusticeDavid J. Brewer, and Taft offered the position to Hughes. Hughes quickly accepted the offer.[27]His nomination was formally received by the Senate on April 25, 1910, and theSenate Judiciary Committeefavorably on his nomination on May 2, 1910.[28]He was then unanimously confirmed by the Senate on May 2, 1910.[27][28]Two months after Hughes's confirmation, but prior to his taking the judicial oath, Chief JusticeMelville Fullerdied. Taft elevated Associate JusticeEdward Douglass Whiteto the position of Chief Justice despite having previously indicated to Hughes that he might select Hughes as Chief Justice. White's candidacy for the position was bolstered by his long experience on the bench and popularity among his fellow justices, as well as Theodore Roosevelt's coolness towards Hughes. Taft nominatedWillis Van Devanterto succeed White as associate justice.[29]

Hughes, who was sworn into office on October 10, 1910,[1]quickly struck up friendships with other members of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice White, Associate JusticeJohn Marshall Harlan, and Associate JusticeOliver Wendell Holmes Jr.[30]In the disposition of cases, however, Hughes tended to align with Holmes. He voted to uphold state laws providing for minimum wages, workmen's compensation, and maximum work hours for women and children.[31]He also wrote several opinions upholding the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce under theCommerce Clause. His majority opinion inBaltimore & Ohio Railroad vs. Interstate Commerce Commissionupheld the right of the federal government to regulate the hours of railroad workers.[32]His majority opinion in the 1914Shreveport Rate Caseupheld theInterstate Commerce Commission's decision to void discriminatory railroad rates imposed by theRailroad Commission of Texas. The decision established that the federal government could regulate intrastate commerce when it affected interstate commerce, though Hughes avoided directly overruling the 1895 case ofUnited States v. E. C. Knight Co.[33]

He also wrote a series of opinions that upheld civil liberties; in one such case,McCabe v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co., Hughes's majority opinion required railroad carriers to give African-Americans "equal treatment."[34]Hughes's majority opinion inBailey v. Alabamainvalidated a state law that had made it a crime for a laborer to fail to complete obligations agreed to in a labor contract. Hughes held that this law violated theThirteenth Amendmentand discriminated against African-American workers.[32]He also joined the majority decision in the 1915 case ofGuinn v. United States, which outlawed the use ofgrandfather clausesto determine voter enfranchisement.[35]Hughes and Holmes were the only dissenters from the court's ruling that affirmed a lower court's decision to withhold a writ of habeas corpus fromLeo Frank, aJewishfactory manager convicted of murder in the state of Georgia.[36]

Presidential candidateFurther information:1916 United States presidential electionHughes inWinona, Minnesota, during the1916presidential campaign campaigning on theOlympian

Taft and Roosevelt endured a bitter split during Taft's presidency, and Roosevelt challenged Taft for the 1912 Republican presidential nomination. Taft won re-nomination, but Roosevelt ran on the ticket of athird party, theProgressive Party.[37]With the split in the Republican Party, Democratic GovernorWoodrow Wilsondefeated Taft and Roosevelt in the1912 presidential electionand enacted his progressiveNew Freedomagenda.[38]Seeking to bridge the divide in the Republican Party and limit Wilson to a single term, several Republican leaders asked Hughes to consider running in the1916 presidential election. Hughes at first rebuffed those entreaties, but his potential candidacy became the subject of widespread speculation and polls showed that he was the preferred candidate of many Republican voters.

By the time of the June1916 Republican National Convention, Hughes had won two presidential primaries, and his backers had lined up the support of numerous delegates. Hughes led on the first presidential ballot of the convention and clinched the nomination on the third ballot. Hughes accepted the nomination, becoming the first and only sitting Supreme Court Justice to serve as amajor party's presidential nominee, and submitted his resignation to President Wilson. Roosevelt, meanwhile, declined to run again on a third party ticket, leaving Hughes and Wilson as the only major candidates in the race.[39]

1916 electoral vote results

Because of the Republican Party's dominance in presidential elections held since the election ofAbraham Lincolnin 1860, Hughes was widely regarded as the favorite even though Wilson was the incumbent. His candidacy was further boosted by his own reputation for intelligence, personal integrity, and moderation. Hughes also won the public support of both Taft and Roosevelt, though Roosevelt remained uneasy with Hughes, whom he feared would be a "Wilson with whiskers." However, the split in Republican ranks remained a lingering issue, and Hughes damaged his campaign by inadvertently snubbingHiram Johnson, the Governor of California who had been Roosevelt's running mate in the 1912 election.[40]Because of Hughes's opposition to theAdamson Actand theSixteenth Amendment, most former Progressive Party leaders endorsed Wilson.[41]By election day, Hughes was still generally considered to be the favorite. He performed strongly in theNortheastand early election returns nearly convinced Wilson to concede the election. However, Wilson swept theSolid Southand won several victories in the Midwest, where his candidacy was boosted by a strong pacifist sentiment. Wilson ultimately prevailed after winning the state of California by fewer than 4,000 votes.[42]

After the election, Hughes turned down offers from larger organizations and returned to his small law firm, now known as Hughes, Rounds, Schurman & Dwight.[43]In March 1917, Hughes joined with many other Republican leaders in demanding that Wilson declare war on theCentral PowersafterGermanysank several American merchant ships. The next month, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, and the United States enteredWorld War I.[44]Hughes supported Wilson's military policies, including the imposition of the draft, and he served as chairman of New York City's draft appeals board. He also investigated the aircraft industry on behalf of the Wilson administration, exposing numerous inefficiencies.[45]He once again returned to private practice after the war, serving a wide array of clients, including fiveSocialistswho had been expelled from the New York legislature for their political beliefs.[46]He sought to broker a compromise between President Wilson and Senate Republicans regarding US entrance into Wilson's proposedLeague of Nations, but the Senate rejected the League and theTreaty of Versailles.[47]

With Wilson's popularity declining, many Republican leaders believed that their party would win the1920 presidential election. Hughes remained popular in the party, and many influential Republicans favored him as the party's candidate in 1920. Hughes was struck by personal tragedy when his daughter, Helen, died in 1920 of tuberculosis, and he refused to allow his name to be considered for the presidential nomination at the1920 Republican National Convention. The party instead nominated a ticket consisting of SenatorWarren G. Hardingof Ohio and GovernorCalvin Coolidgeof Massachusetts.[48]The Republican ticket won in a landslide, taking 61 percent of the popular vote.[49]

Secretary of StateFurther information:Presidency of Warren G. HardingandPresidency of Calvin CoolidgeHughes's residence in 1921

Shortly after Harding's victory in the 1920 election, Hughes accepted the position ofSecretary of State.[49]After the death of Chief Justice White in May 1921, Hughes was mentioned as a potential successor. Hughes told Harding he was uninterested in leaving the State Department, and Harding instead appointed former President Taft as the Chief Justice.[50]

Harding granted Hughes a great deal of discretion in his leadership of the State Department and US foreign policy.[51]Harding and Hughes frequently communicated, Hughes worked within some broad outlines, and the president remained well-informed. But the president rarely overrode any of Hughes's decisions, with the big and obvious exception of the League of Nations.[52]

After taking office, President Harding hardened his stance on the League of Nations, deciding the US would not join even a scaled-down version.[53]Or, another view is that Harding favored joining with reservations when he assumed office on March 4, 1921, but that Senators staunchly opposed (the "Irreconcilables"), perRon Powaski's1991 book, "threatened to wreck the new administration."[54]

Hughes favored membership in the League. Early in his tenure as Secretary of State, he asked the Senate to vote on the Treaty of Versailles,[55]but he yielded to either Harding's changing views and/or political reality within the Senate. Instead, he convinced Harding of the necessity of a separate treaty with Germany, resulting in the signing and eventual ratification of theU.S.–German Peace Treaty.[56]Hughes also favored US entrance into thePermanent Court of International Justice, but was unable to convince the Senate to provide support.[57]

Washington Naval Treaty

Hughes's major initiative in office was preventing anarms raceamong the three great naval powers of Britain,Japan, and the United States. After SenatorWilliam Borahled passage of a resolution calling on the Harding administration to negotiate an arms reduction treaty with Japan and Britain, Hughes convinced those countries as well as Italy and France to attend a naval conference in Washington. Hughes selected an American delegation consisting of himself, former Secretary of StateElihu Root, Republican SenatorHenry Cabot Lodge, and Democratic SenatorOscar Underwood. Hughes hoped that the selection of Underwood would ensure bipartisan support for any treaty arising from the conference.

Prior to the conference, Hughes had carefully considered possible treaty terms since each side would seek terms that would provide their respective navy with subtle advantages. He decided to propose an arms reduction formula based on the immediate halting of all naval construction, with future construction limits based on the ship tonnage of each country. The formula would be based on the ship tonnage ratio of 1920, which stood at roughly 5:5:3 for the United States, Britain, and Japan, respectively. Knowing that US and foreign naval leaders would resist his proposal, he anxiously guarded it from the press, but he won the support of Root, Lodge, and Underwood.[58]

TheWashington Naval Conferenceopened in November 1921, attended by five national delegations, and, in the gallery, hundreds of reporters and dignitaries such as Chief Justice Taft andWilliam Jennings Bryan. On the first day of the conference, Hughes unveiled his proposal to limit naval armaments. Hughes's ambitious proposal to scrap all UScapital shipsunder construction stunned the delegates, as did his proposals for the Japanese and British navies.[59]The British delegation, led byArthur Balfour, supported the proposal, but the Japanese delegation, under the leadership ofKatō Tomosaburō, asked for several modifications. Katō asked that the ratio be adjusted to 10:10:7 and refused to destroy theMutsu, adreadnoughtthat many Japanese saw as a symbol of national pride. Katō eventually relented on the naval ratios, but Hughes acquiesced to the retention of theMutsu, leading to protests from British leaders. Hughes clinched an agreement after convincing Balfour to agree to limit the size of theAdmiral-class battlecruisersdespite objections from the British navy. Hughes also won agreement on theFour-Power Treaty, which called for a peaceful resolution of territorial claims in thePacific Ocean, as well as theNine-Power Treaty, which guaranteed the territorial integrity ofChina. News of the success of the conference was warmly received around the world.Franklin D. Rooseveltlater wrote that the conference "brought to the world the first important voluntary agreement for limitation and reduction of armament."[60]

Other issuesSee also:Banana WarsHughes (fourth from right) leads a delegation to Brazil withCarl Theodore Vogelgesangin 1922

In theaftermath of World War I, the German economy struggled from the strain of postwar rebuilding and war reparations owed to the Entente, while the Entente powers in turn owed large war debts to the United States. Though many economists favored cancellation of all European war debts, French leaders were unwilling to cancel the reparations, and Congress refused to consider forgiving the war debts. Hughes helped organize the creation of an international committee of economists to study the possibility of lowering Germany's reparations, and Hughes selectedCharles G. Dawesto lead that committee. The resultingDawes Plan, which provided for annual payments by Germany, was accepted at a 1924 conference held in London.[61]

Hughes favored a closer relationship with theUnited Kingdom, and sought to coordinate U.S. foreign policy with Great Britain where it concerned matters of Europe and Asia.[62]Hughes sought better relations with the countries ofLatin America, and he favored removing US troops when he believed that doing so was practicable. He formulated plans for the withdrawal of US soldiers from theDominican RepublicandNicaraguabut decided that instability inHaitirequired the continued presence of U.S. soldiers. He also settled a border dispute betweenPanamaandCosta Ricaby threatening to send soldiers into Panama.[63]

Hughes was the keynote speaker at the 1919National Conference on Lynching.

Return to private practiceTimecover, December 29, 1924Mrs. Antoinette Carter, (Mr. Hughes's Wife)

Hughes stayed on as Secretary of State in the Coolidge administration after the death of Harding in 1923, but he left office in early 1925.[64]He once again returned to his law firm, becoming one of the highest-earning lawyers in the country. He also served as aspecial masterin a case concerningChicago's sewage system, was elected president of theAmerican Bar Association, and co-founded theNational Conference on Christians and Jews.

State party leaders asked him to run againstAl Smithin New York's 1926 gubernatorial election, and some national party leaders suggested that he run for president in 1928, but Hughes declined to seek public office. After the1928 Republican National ConventionnominatedHerbert Hoover, Hughes gave Hoover his full support and campaigned for him across the United States. Hoover won the election in a landslide and asked Hughes to serve as his Secretary of State, but Hughes declined the offer to keep his commitment to serve as a judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice.[65]

Chief JusticeSee also:Hughes Court,List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Hughes Court, andHerbert Hoover Supreme Court candidatesRejoining the Court[Portrait of Hughes as Chief Justice

On February 3, 1930, President Hoover nominated Hughes to succeed Chief Justice Taft, who was gravely ill. Though many had expected Hoover to elevate his close friend, Associate JusticeHarlan Stone, Hughes was the top choice of Taft and Attorney GeneralWilliam D. Mitchell.[66][67]Though Hughes had compiled a progressive record during his tenure as an Associate Justice, by 1930 Taft believed that Hughes would be a consistent conservative on the court.[68]The nomination faced resistance from progressive Republicans such as senatorsGeorge W. NorrisandWilliam E. Borah, who were concerned that Hughes would be overly friendly to big business after working as a corporate lawyer.[69][70]Many of those progressives, as well some Southern states' rights advocates, were outraged by theTaft Court's tendency to strike down state and federal legislation on the basis of the doctrine ofsubstantive due processand feared that a Hughes Court would emulate the Taft Court.[71]Adherents of the substantive due process doctrine held that economic regulations such as restrictions on child labor and minimum wages violatedfreedom of contract, which, they argued, could not be abridged by federal and state laws because of theFifth Amendmentand theFourteenth Amendment.[72]

The Senate Judiciary Committee held no hearings, and voted to favorably report on Hughes' nomination by a 10–2 vote on February 10, 1930.[28]On February 13, 1930, the Senate voted 31–49 against sending his nomination back to committee.[28][73]After a brief but bitter confirmation battle, Hughes was confirmed by the Senate on February 13, 1930 in a 52–26 vote,[28][74]and he took his judicial oath of office on February 24, 1930.[1]Hughes's son, Charles Jr., was subsequently forced to resign asSolicitor Generalafter his father took office as Chief Justice.[75]Hughes quickly emerged as a leader of the Court, earning the admiration of his fellow justices for his intelligence, energy, and strong understanding of the law.[76]Shortly after Hughes was confirmed, Hoover nominated federal judgeJohn J. Parkerto succeed deceased Associate JusticeEdward Terry Sanford. The Senate rejected Parker, whose earlier rulings had alienated labor unions and theNAACP, but confirmed Hoover's second nominee,Owen Roberts.[77]In early 1932, the other justices asked Hughes to request the resignation of Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose health had declined as he entered his nineties. Hughes privately asked his old friend to retire, and Holmes immediately sent a letter of resignation to President Hoover. To replace Holmes, Hoover nominatedBenjamin N. Cardozo, who quickly won confirmation.[78]

The early Hughes Court was divided between the conservative "Four Horsemen" and the liberal "Three Musketeers".[a][80]The primary difference between these two blocs was that the Four Horsemen embraced the substantive due process doctrine, but the liberals, includingLouis Brandeis, advocated forjudicial restraint, or deference to legislative bodies.[81]Hughes and Roberts were the swing justices between the two blocs for much of the 1930s.[82]

In one of the first major cases of his tenure, Hughes joined with Roberts and the Three Musketeers to strike down a piece of state legislation in the 1931 landmark case ofNear v. Minnesota. In his majority opinion, Hughes held that theFirst Amendmentbarred states from violatingfreedom of the press. Hughes also wrote the majority opinion inStromberg v. California, which represented the first time the Supreme Court struck down a state law on the basis of theincorporation of the Bill of Rights.[b][80]In another early case,O'Gorman & Young, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., Hughes and Roberts joined with the liberal bloc in upholding a state regulation that limited commissions for the sale of fire insurance.[83]

Roosevelt takes office

DuringHoover's presidency, the country plunged into theGreat Depression.[84]As the country faced an ongoing economic calamity,Franklin D. Rooseveltdecisively defeated Hoover in the1932 presidential election.[85]Responding to theGreat Depression, Roosevelt passed a bevy of domestic legislation as part of hisNew Dealdomestic program, and the response to the New Deal became one of the key issues facing the Hughes Court. In theGold Clause Cases, a series of cases that presented some of the first major tests of New Deal laws, the Hughes Court upheld restrictions on the ownership of gold that were favored by the Roosevelt administration.[86]Roosevelt, who had expected the Supreme Court to rule adversely to his administration's position, was elated by the outcome, writing that "as a lawyer it seems to me that the Supreme Court has at last definitely put human values ahead of the 'pound of flesh' called for by a contract."[87]The Hughes Court also continued to adjudicate major cases concerning the states. In the 1934 case ofHome Building & Loan Ass'n v. Blaisdell, Hughes and Roberts joined the Three Musketeers in upholding a Minnesota law that established a moratorium on mortgage payments.[86]Hughes's majority opinion in that case stated that "while an emergency does not create power, an emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power."[88]

Beginning with the 1935 case ofRailroad Retirement Board v. Alton Railroad Co., Roberts started siding with the Four Horsemen, creating a majority bloc that struck down New Deal laws.[89]The court held that Congress had, in passing an act that provided a mandatory retirement and pension system for railroad industry workers, violated due process and exceeded the regulatory powers granted to it by theCommerce Clause.[90]Hughes strongly criticized Roberts's majority opinion in his dissent, writing that "the power committed to Congress to govern interstate commerce does not require that its government should be wise, much less that it be perfect. The power implies a broad discretion."[89]Nonetheless, in May 1935, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down three New Deal laws. Writing the majority opinion inA.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, Hughes held that Roosevelt'sNational Industrial Recovery Act of 1933was doubly unconstitutional, falling afoul of both the Commerce Clause and thenondelegation doctrine.[89]

In the 1936 case ofUnited States v. Butler, Hughes surprised many observers by joining with Roberts and the Four Horsemen in striking down theAgricultural Adjustment Act.[91]In doing so, the court dismantled the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the major New Deal agricultural program.[92]In another 1936 case,Carter v. Carter Coal Co., the Supreme Court struck down theGuffey Coal Act, which regulated thebituminous coalindustry. Hughes wrote a concurring opinion inCarterin which he agreed with the majority's holding that Congress could not use its Commerce Clause powers to "regulate activities and relations within the states which affect interstate commerce only indirectly." In the final case of the 1936 term,Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo, Roberts joined with the Four Horsemen in striking down New York's minimum wage law.[93]President Roosevelt had held up the New York minimum wage law as a model for other states to follow, and many Republicans as well as Democrats attacked the decision for interfering with the states.[94]In December 1936, the court handed down its near-unanimous opinion inUnited States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., upholding a law that granted the president the power to place an arms embargo onBoliviaandParaguay. Justice Sutherland's majority opinion, which Hughes joined, explained that the Constitution had granted the president broad powers to conduct foreign policy.[95]

Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937TheHughes Courtin 1937, photographed byErich Salomon

Roosevelt won re-election in a landslide in the1936 presidential election, and congressional Democrats grew their majorities in both houses of Congress.[96]As the Supreme Court had already struck down both the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the president feared that the court would next strike down other key New Deal laws, including theNational Labor Relations Act of 1935(also known as the Wagner Act) and theSocial Security Act.[97]In early 1937, Roosevelt proposed to increase the number of Supreme Court seats through theJudicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937(also known as the "court-packing plan"). Roosevelt argued that the bill was necessary because Supreme Court justices were unable to meet their case load. With large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, Roosevelt's bill had a strong chance of passage in early 1937.[98]However, the bill was poorly received by the public, as many saw the bill as power grab or as an attack on a sacrosanct institution.[99]Hughes worked behind the scenes to defeat the effort, rushing important New Deal legislation through the Supreme Court in an effort to quickly uphold the constitutionality of the laws.[100]He also sent a letter to SenatorBurton K. Wheeler, asserting that the Supreme Court was fully capable of handling its case load. Hughes's letter had a powerful impact in discrediting Roosevelt's argument about the practical need for more Supreme Court justices.[101]

While the debate over the court-packing plan continued, the Supreme Court upheld, in a 5–4 vote, the state of Washington's minimum wage law in the case ofWest Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish. Joined by the Three Musketeers and Roberts, Hughes wrote the majority opinion,[102]which overturned the 1923 case ofAdkins v. Children's Hospital.[103]In his majority opinion, Hughes wrote that the "Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract", and further held that the Washington legislature "was entitled to adopt measures to reduce the evils of the 'sweating system,' the exploiting of workers at wages so low as to be insufficient to meet the bare cost of living."[104]Because Roberts had previously sided with the four conservative justices inTipaldo, a similar case, it was widely perceived that Roberts agreed to uphold the constitutionality of minimum wage as a result of the pressure that was put on the Supreme Court by the court-packing plan (a theory referred to as "the switch in time that saved nine").[105]However, Hughes and Roberts both later indicated that Roberts had committed to changing his judicial stance on state minimum wage law months before Roosevelt announced his court-packing plan.[106]Roberts hadvotedto grantcertiorarito hear theParrishcase even before the 1936 presidential election, and oral arguments for the case had taken place in late 1936.[107]In an initial conference vote held on December 19, 1936, Roberts had voted to uphold the law.[108]Scholars continue to debate why Roberts essentially switched his vote with regards to state minimum wage laws, but Hughes may have played an important role in influencing Roberts to uphold the law.[109]

Weeks after the court handed down its decision inParrish, Hughes wrote for the majority again inNLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.Joined by Roberts and the Three Musketeers, Hughes upheld the constitutionality of the Wagner Act. The Wagner Act case marked a turning point for the Supreme Court, as the court began a pattern of upholding New Deal laws.[110]Later in 1937, the court upheld both the old age benefits and the taxation system established by the Social Security Act. Meanwhile, conservative Associate JusticeWillis Van Devanterannounced his retirement, undercutting Roosevelt's arguments for the necessity of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937.[111]By the end of the year, the court-packing plan had died in the Senate, and Roosevelt had been dealt a serious political wound that emboldened theconservative coalitionof Southern Democrats and Republicans.[112]However, throughout 1937, Hughes had presided over a massive shift in jurisprudence that marked the end of theLochner era, a period during which the Supreme Court had frequently struck down state and federal economic regulations.[103]Hugo Black, Roosevelt's nominee to succeed Van Devanter, was confirmed by the Senate in August 1937.[113]He was joined byStanley Forman Reed, who succeeded Sutherland, the following year, leaving pro-New Deal liberals with a majority on the Supreme Court.[114][c]

Later tenureAssociate JusticeWilliam O. Douglasserved alongside Hughes on the Supreme Court

After 1937, the Hughes Court continued to uphold economic regulations, with McReynolds and Butler often being the lone dissenters.[116]The liberal bloc was strengthened even further in 1940, when Butler was succeeded by another Roosevelt appointee,Frank Murphy.[117]In the case ofUnited States v. Carolene Products Co., Justice Stone's majority opinion articulated a broad theory of deference to economic regulations.Carolene Productsestablished that the Supreme Court would conduct a "rational basis review" of economic regulations, meaning that the Court would only strike down a regulation if legislators lacked a "rational basis" for passing the regulation. The Supreme Court showed that it would defer to state legislators in the cases ofMadden v. KentuckyandOlsen v. Nebraska.[118]Hughes joined the majority in another case,United States v. Darby Lumber Co., which upheld theFair Labor Standards Act of 1938.[119]

The Hughes Court also faced several civil rights cases. Hughes wrote the majority opinion inMissouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, which required the state of Missouri to either integrate its law school or establish a separate law school for African-Americans.[120]He joined and helped arrange unanimous support for Black's majority opinion inChambers v. Florida, which overturned the conviction of a defendant who had been coerced into confessing a crime.[121]In the 1940 case ofMinersville School District v. Gobitis, Hughes joined the majority decision, which held that public schools could require students to salute theAmerican flagdespite the students' religious objections to these practices.[122]

Hughes began to consider retiring in 1940, partly due to the declining health of his wife. In June 1941, he informed Roosevelt of his impending retirement.[123]Hughes suggested that Roosevelt elevate Stone to the position of Chief Justice, a suggestion that Roosevelt accepted.[124]Hughes retired in 1941, and Stone was confirmed as the new Chief Justice, beginning theStone Court.

Retirement and deathHughes's gravesite

During his retirement, Hughes generally refrained from re-entering public life or giving advice on public policy, but he agreed to review theUnited Nations Charterfor Secretary of StateCordell Hull,[125]and recommended that PresidentHarry S. TrumanappointFred M. Vinsonas Chief Justice after the death of Stone. He lived in New York City with his wife, Antoinette, until she died in December 1945.[126]On August 27, 1948, at the age of 86, Hughes died in what is now the Tiffany Cottage of theWianno ClubinOsterville, Massachusetts. When he died, Hughes was the last living Justice to have served on theWhite Court.[d]

He is interred atWoodlawn Cemeteryinthe Bronx, New York City.[127]


In the evaluation of historianDexter Perkins, in domestic politics:

Hughes was a happy mixture of the liberal and the conservative. He was wise enough to know that you cannot preserve a social order unless you eradicate its abuses, and so he was never astand-patter. On the other side he could see that change carried perils as well as promises. Sometimes he stood out against these perils. He was not always wise, it is true. We do not have to agree with him in everything. But he stands a noble and constructive figure in American life.[128]

In the consensus view of scholars, Hughes as a diplomat was:

an outstanding Secretary of State. He possessed a clear vision of America's position in the new international system. The United States would be a world leader, not only in terms of its ability to provide material progress, but also by its advocacy of diplomacy and arbitration over military force. Hughes was fully committed to the supremacy of negotiation and the maintenance of American foreign policy. This quality was combined with an ability to maintain a clear sense of the larger goals of American diplomacy.... He was able to maintain control over US foreign policy and take the country into a new role as a world power.[129]

Hughes has been honored in a variety of ways, including in the names of several schools, rooms, and events. Other things named for Hughes include theHughes RangeinAntarctica. On April 11, 1962, the 100th anniversary of Hughes's birth, the U.S. Post Office issued acommemorative stampin his honor.[130]TheCharles Evans Hughes House, now theBurmeseambassador's residence, inWashington, D.C., was declared aNational Historic Landmarkin 1972.

JudgeLearned Handonce observed that Hughes was the greatest lawyer he had ever known, "except that his son (Charles Evans Hughes Jr.) was even greater."[131]

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