Hugo Black

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(2) Elizabeth Seay DeMeritte (1957-1971)

Hugo LaFayette Black (February 27, 1886 – September 25, 1971) was an American politician and jurist. A member of the Democratic Party, Black represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1927 to 1937, and served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. Black was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 63 to 13. He was first of nine Roosevelt nominees to the Court,[2] and outlasted all except for William O. Douglas.[3] Black is widely regarded as one of the most influential Supreme Court justices in the 20th century.

The fifth longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history, Black is noted for his advocacy of a textualist reading of the United States Constitution and of the position that the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights were imposed on the states ("incorporated") by the Fourteenth Amendment. His jurisprudence has been the focus of much discussion. Because of his insistence on a strict textual analysis of Constitutional issues, as opposed to the process-oriented jurisprudence of many of his colleagues, it is difficult to characterize Black as a liberal or a conservative as those terms are generally understood in the 21st century. On the one hand, his literal reading of the Bill of Rights and his theory of incorporation often translated into support for strengthening civil rights and civil liberties, such as the right to counsel in Gideon v. Wainwright. On the other hand, Black consistently opposed the doctrine of substantive due process (the anti-New Deal Supreme Court cited this concept in such a way as to make it impossible for the government to enact legislation that interfered with the freedom of business owners)[4] and believed that there was no basis in the words of the Constitution for a right to privacy, voting against finding one in Griswold v. Connecticut.[5]


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