|8th Chief Justice of the United States|
July 20, 1888 –July 4, 1910
|Nominated by||Grover Cleveland|
|Preceded by||Morrison Waite|
|Succeeded by||Edward Douglass White|
Melville Weston Fuller
February 11, 1833
Augusta, Maine, U.S.
|Died||July 4, 1910 77) (aged|
Sorrento, Maine, U.S.
(m. 1858;died 1864)
Mary Coolbaugh(m. 1866)
|Education|| Harvard University |
Bowdoin College (BA, MA)
Melville Weston Fuller (February 11, 1833 – July 4, 1910) was a politician, lawyer, and judge from Illinois. He was the eighth Chief Justice of the United States from 1888 to 1910.
Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.
The Chief Justice of the United States is the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, and as such the highest-ranking judge of the federal judiciary. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution grants plenary power to the President of the United States to nominate, and with the advice and consent of the United States Senate, appoint a chief justice, who serves until they resign, are impeached and convicted, retire, or die.
Born in Augusta, Maine, he established a legal practice in Chicago after graduating from Bowdoin College. He also served as a newspaper editor and managed Democrat Stephen A. Douglas's campaign in the 1860 presidential election. During the Civil War, he served a single term in the Illinois House of Representatives, and political opponents would later claim that he was an anti-war Copperhead. Fuller became a prominent attorney in Chicago and was a delegate to several Democratic national conventions.
Augusta is the state capital of the U.S. state of Maine and the county seat of Kennebec County.
Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States.
Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine. At the time Bowdoin was chartered, in 1794, Maine was still a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The college offers 34 majors and 36 minors, as well as several joint engineering programs with Columbia, Caltech, Dartmouth College, and The University of Maine.
He declined several appointments offered by President Grover Cleveland before accepting the nomination to succeed Morrison Waite as Chief Justice. Despite some opposition to the nomination, Fuller won Senate confirmation in 1888. In 1893, he declined Cleveland's offer to serve as Secretary of State. He served as Chief Justice until his death in 1910.
Stephen Grover Cleveland was an American politician and lawyer who was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. He won the popular vote for three presidential elections—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was one of two Democrats to be elected president during the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933.
Morrison Remick "Mott" Waite was an attorney, judge, and politician from Ohio. He served as the seventh Chief Justice of the United States from 1874 to his death in 1888. During his tenure, the Waite Court took a narrow interpretation of federal authority related to laws and amendments that were passed during the Reconstruction Era to expand the rights of freedmen and protect them from attacks by vigilante groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.
As Chief Justice of the Fuller Court, he presided over several important cases. In Plessy v. Ferguson , the court articulated the doctrine of separate but equal and upheld Jim Crow laws. His opinion in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. struck down the federal income tax provision of the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act. The decision was later superseded by the Sixteenth Amendment. Fuller's opinion in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. narrowly interpreted the Sherman Antitrust Act, making government prosecution of antitrust cases more difficult.
The Fuller Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1888 to 1910, when Melville Fuller served as the eighth Chief Justice of the United States. Fuller succeeded Morrison R. Waite as Chief Justice after the latter's death, and Fuller served as Chief Justice until his death, at which point Associate Justice Edward Douglass White was nominated and confirmed as Fuller's replacement.
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court issued in 1896. It upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities as long as the segregated facilities were equal in quality – a doctrine that came to be known as "separate but equal". The decision legitimized the many state laws re-establishing racial segregation that had been passed in the American South after the end of the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877).
Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law according to which racial segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed "equal protection" under the law to all people. Under the doctrine, as long as the facilities provided to each race were equal, state and local governments could require that services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation be segregated by race, which was already the case throughout the states of the former Confederacy. The phrase was derived from a Louisiana law of 1890, although the law actually used the phrase "equal but separate".
Fuller was born in Augusta, Maine, the son of Catherine Martin (Weston) and Frederick Augustus Fuller.Both his maternal grandfather, Nathan Weston and paternal grandfather, Henry Weld Fuller were judges. His father was a well-known lawyer. His parents divorced shortly after his birth, and he was raised by Nathan Weston. He attended college at Harvard University for one year before graduating from Bowdoin College, Phi Beta Kappa in 1853. He then spent six months at Harvard Law School, leaving without graduating in 1855.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The university is often cited as the world's top tertiary institution by most publishers.
The Phi Beta Kappa Society (ΦΒΚ) is the oldest academic honor society in the United States, and is often described as its most prestigious honor society, due to its long history and academic selectivity. Phi Beta Kappa aims to promote and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and to induct the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at American colleges and universities. It was founded at the College of William and Mary on December 5, 1776 as the first collegiate Greek-letter fraternity and was among the earliest collegiate fraternal societies.
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. It is ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings and the ARWU Shanghai Ranking.
Fuller first studied law under the direction of an uncle. In 1855, he went into partnership with another uncle. He also became the editor of The Age, a leading Democratic newspaper in Augusta, Maine. Soon he got tired of Maine and moved to Chicago. In 1860, he managed Democrat Stephen Douglas' campaign for the Presidency of the United States
At the time, Chicago was becoming the gateway to the West. Railroads had just linked it to the east. Fuller built a law practice in Chicago. Within two years, he appeared before the Supreme Court of Illinois in the case of Beach v. Derby. He became a leading attorney in the city. He first appeared before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Traders' Bank v. Campbell. He also argued the case of Tappan v. the Merchants' National Bank of Chicago, which was the first case heard by Chief Justice Morrison Waite, whom he would later replace.
He was a minor figure in Illinois politics. He spent one term in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1863 to 1865, and was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1862, and to the national Democratic Conventions of 1864, 1872, 1876, and 1880. In 1876, he made the nominating speech for Thomas Hendricks, for the Democratic nomination for President. After his inauguration as President, Grover Cleveland tried to make Fuller chairman of the United States Civil Service Commission, but he declined. Cleveland then tried to persuade Fuller to accept appointment as Solicitor General of the United States, but Fuller again declined. In 1886, Fuller was president of the Illinois State Bar Association.
On April 30, 1888, President Grover Cleveland nominated him for the chief justice position following the death of Morrison R. Waite. Fuller was not the first man to be mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee; the former ambassador to Great Britain, Edward J. Phelps, was perceived as the front-runner for the nomination, but declined because he thought that as a former Minister to England, his nomination might be looked on unfavorably by Irish-Americans, a major Democratic Party constituency.
Fuller's nomination was tepidly received in the Senate. He had avoided military service during the Civil War, and while serving in the Illinois House of Representatives had attempted to block wartime legislation proposed by Governor Richard Yates. Republicans thus launched a smear campaign against Fuller, portraying him as a Copperhead—an anti-war Democrat—and publishing a tract claiming that "The records of the Illinois legislature of 1863 are black with Mr. Fuller's unworthy and unpatriotic conduct."However, he was eventually confirmed by the United States Senate on July 20, 1888, by a vote of 41 to 20, with nine Republicans voting with the Democrats to confirm him. He received his commission the same day. Fuller did not take the oath of office until October 8, 1888.
On the bench, he oversaw a number of memorable or important opinions. The famous phrase "Equal Justice Under Law" paraphrases his opinion in Caldwell v. Texas, 137 U.S. 692 (1891) where Fuller discussed "equal and impartial justice under the law."The equally famous (and much criticized) phrase "separate but equal," allowing segregation in the South, was made famous by the Fuller Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), though the actual phrase was "equal but separate".
The Court under Fuller declared the income tax law unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. , 157 U.S. 429.In Western Union Telegraph Company v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 128 U.S. 39 the Court ruled that states could not tax interstate telegraph messages.
The Court through his opinion struck a blow against government antitrust legislation with the 1895 case United States v. E. C. Knight Co. .In Fuller's majority decision, the court found that the refining of sugar by a company within the boundaries of one state could not be held to be in restraint of interstate commerce under the terms of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, regardless of the product's final market share. (E.C. Knight Company's owner, the American Sugar Refining Company, controlled more than 90% of sugar production at the time).
On immigration, Fuller, speaking for the court, ruled in the case of Gonzales v. Williams (192 U.S. 1, 1904),that under the immigration laws Puerto Ricans were not aliens, and therefore could not be denied entry into the United States. The Court however declined to declare that Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. The question of the citizenship status of the inhabitants of the new island territories, their situation remained confusing, ambiguous, and contested. Puerto Ricans came to be known as something in between: "noncitizen nationals".
In this famous immigration case, Isabel Gonzalez arrived from Puerto Rico at Ellis Island in August 1902. Immigration Commissioner William Williams held her as an "illegal" with plans to deport Gonzalez back to San Juan, Puerto Rico. She appealed her case, whereby the Court ruled in favor of Gonzalez and allowed her to remain in the US. Fuller's opinion did not go so far as to claim that she was automatically a US citizen, however, he recognized that Puerto Rico was a territory of the US (as of the 1898 Spanish–American War), and therefore Gonzales had the right to remain in the US. This paved the way for future Puerto Ricans to freely immigrate to the US. Later, in 1917, the Jones–Shafroth Act was passed by Congress, which provided even more immigration and citizenship rights to Puerto Ricans.
In 1893, Fuller turned down an offer from President-Elect Grover Cleveland to serve as Secretary of State.
He also served on the Arbitration Commission in Paris in 1899 to resolve a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela.[ citation needed ]
He was said to closely resemble Mark Twain. Once, when the humorist was stopped on the street, a passerby demanded the Chief Justice's autograph. Twain supposedly wrote:
It is delicious to be full, but it is heavenly to be Fuller. I am cordially yours, Melville W. Fuller.
He was married twice. He married Calista Reynolds in 1858; she died in 1864. He married Mary Coolbaugh, the daughter of banker William F. Coolbaugh, in 1866. He had six daughters.
Horace Williams Fuller, editor of the lighthearted legal magazine, The Green Bag , was a cousin.
He died in Sorrento, Maine, and his remains are interred at Graceland Cemetery.
According to one study, while on the Supreme Court, Fuller voted in favor of civil rights for blacks in 15.15% (5 of 33) of the cases before him and voted in favor of civil rights for Asian Americans in 24.14% (7 of 29) of cases before him. Both percentages were below the average for the Supreme Court as a whole.
As Chief Justice, he administered the oath of office to five Presidents (Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft).
United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U.S. 1 (1895), also known as the "Sugar Trust Case," was a United States Supreme Court antitrust case that severely limited the federal government's power to pursue anti-trust actions under the Sherman Antitrust Act. In Chief Justice Melville Fuller's majority opinion, the Court held that Congress could not regulate manufacturing, thus giving state governments the sole power to take legal action against manufacturing monopolies. The case has never been overruled, but in Swift & Co. v. United States and subsequent cases the Court has held that Congress can regulate manufacturing when it affects interstate commerce.
John Marshall Harlan was an American lawyer and politician who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. He is often called "The Great Dissenter" due to his many dissents in cases that restricted civil liberties, including Plessy v. Ferguson.
Edward Douglass White Jr., was an American politician and jurist from Louisiana. He was a United States Senator and the ninth Chief Justice of the United States. He served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1894 to 1921. He is best known for formulating the Rule of Reason standard of antitrust law.
Joseph McKenna was an American politician who served in all three branches of the U.S. federal government, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Attorney General and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He is one of seventeen members of the House of Representatives who subsequently served on the Supreme Court.
Stephen Johnson Field was an American jurist. He was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from May 20, 1863, to December 1, 1897, the second longest tenure of any justice. Prior to this appointment, he was the fifth Chief Justice of California.
Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298 (1922), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that certain provisions of the U.S. Constitution did not apply to territories not incorporated into the union. It originated when Jesús M. Balzac was prosecuted for criminal libel in a district court of Puerto Rico. Balzac declared that his rights had been violated under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as he was denied a trial by jury since the code of criminal procedure of Puerto Rico did not grant a jury trial in misdemeanor cases. In the appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the lower courts on the island in deciding that the provisions of the Constitution did not apply to a territory that belonged to the United States but was not incorporated into the Union. It has become known as one of the "Insular Cases".
DeLima v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 1 (1901), was one of a group of the first Insular Cases decided by the US Supreme Court.
City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States limited the power of law enforcement to conduct suspicionless searches, specifically, using drug-sniffing dogs at roadblocks. Previous Supreme Court decisions had given the police power to create roadblocks for the purposes of border security, and removing drunk drivers from the road. This decision stated that the power was limited to situations in which the search was "designed to serve special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement."
Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 (2000), is a case decided before the United States Supreme Court involving U.S. criminal procedure regarding searches and seizures.
J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., 511 U.S. 127 (1994), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that making peremptory challenges based solely on a prospective juror's sex is unconstitutional. J.E.B. extended the court's existing precedent in Batson v. Kentucky (1986), which found race-based peremptory challenges in criminal trials unconstitutional, and Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company (1991), which extended that principle to civil trials. As in Batson, the court found that sex-based challenges violate the Equal Protection Clause.
Isabel González was a Puerto Rican activist who helped pave the way for Puerto Ricans to be given United States citizenship. As a young unwed pregnant woman, González had her plans to find and marry the father of her unborn child derailed by the United States Treasury Department when she was excluded as an alien "likely to become a public charge" upon her arrival in New York City. González challenged the Government of the United States in the groundbreaking case Gonzales v. Williams. Officially the case was known as Isabella Gonzales, Appellant, v. William Williams, United States Commissioner of Immigration at the Port of New York No. 225, argued December 4, 7, 1903, and decided January 4, 1904. Her case was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, filed February 27, 1903, after also having her Writ of Habeas Corpus dismissed. Her Supreme Court case is the first time that the Court confronted the citizenship status of inhabitants of territories acquired by the United States. González actively pursued the cause of U.S. citizenship for all Puerto Ricans by writing letters published in The New York Times.
Vartelas v. Holder, 566 U.S. 257 (2012), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the enforcement of a provision of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was applied retroactively to Panagis Vartelas and was thus unconstitutional.
Alfred M. Craig was an American judge from Illinois. Born and raised in the state, he was first elected Knox County judge before he was named to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1873. Craig served three nine-year terms there, serving as Chief Justice four times.
Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), is a criminal case that came before the Supreme Court of the United States, which considered whether Puerto Rico and the federal government of the United States are separate sovereigns for purposes of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the US Constitution.
Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698 (1893), decided by the United States Supreme Court on May 15, 1893, was a case challenging provisions in Section 6 of the Geary Act of 1892 that extended and amended the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The provisions in question required Chinese in the United States to obtain certificates of residency, and allowed for the arrest and deportation of Chinese who had failed to obtain these certificates, even if they had not violated any other laws. The case involved writs of habeas corpus from Fong Yue Ting and two other Chinese citizens residing in New York City who were arrested and detained for not having certificates. The Supreme Court decision was in favor of the United States government, upholding the Geary Act and denying the writs of habeas corpus.
The White Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1910 to 1921, when Edward Douglass White served as Chief Justice of the United States. White, an associate justice since 1894, succeeded Melville Fuller as Chief Justice after the latter's death, and White served as Chief Justice until his death a decade later. He was the first sitting associate justice to be elevated to chief justice in the Court's history. He was succeeded by former president William Howard Taft.
The Fuller-Weston House is a historic house at 11 Summer Street in Augusta, Maine. Built in 1818, it is a fine local example of Federal period architecture, and is further notable for several of its occupants, who include the Chief Justice of the United States Melville Fuller. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It now serves as the rectory of St. Mark's Church.
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