The Taft Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy

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ABC-CLIO, 2003 - 331 pages
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An authoritative survey of the Taft Court, which served from 1921 to 1929, and the impact it had on the U.S. legal system, social order, economics, and politics.
William Howard Taft's experience in the executive branch gave him a unique perspective on the court's work. He initiated judicial reform and was the prime mover behind the Judiciary Act of 1925, which gave the court wide latitude to accept cases based on their importance to the nation.

The Taft Court decided about 1,600 cases during its nine terms. This book examines the "aggregate" personality of the court through discussions of individual voting characteristics, bloc alignments, and other patterned behavior. It also charts the strengths and weaknesses of the rulings and demonstrates Taft's penchant for increasing the impact of decisions by pursuing consensus among the justices, two of whom were his own appointees when he served as president.

  • An A-Z set of entries on the people, laws, events, and concepts that are important to an understanding of the Taft Court
  • A photograph of and a brief bibliography on each justice

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Selected pages


The Justices
Significant Decisions
Legacy and Impact
TermbyTerm Statistics
Table of Cases
Annotated Bibliography
About the Author

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 151 - For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press — which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by Congress — are among the fundamental personal rights and "liberties" protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States.
Page 156 - When a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.
Page 154 - We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence.
Page 156 - The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger...
Page 154 - It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
Page 154 - But the answer is that the law does all that is needed when it does all that it can, indicates a policy, applies it to all within the lines, and seeks to bring within the lines all similarly situated so far and so fast as its means allow.
Page 168 - Some of her answers might excite popular prejudice, but if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.

About the author (2003)

Peter G. Renstrom is professor of political science at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

Bibliographic information