Chief Justice as Chief Executive: Taft's Judicial Statesmanship

Chief Justice as Chief Executive: Taft's Judicial Statesmanship William Howard Taft is the only American to have served as the head of two branches of the national government. After his term as President (1909‐1913), he was appointed Chief Justice in 1921 by his fellow Ohioan, Warren G. Harding. Taft was a remarkable success as Chief Justice, putting his formidable abilities to work strengthening the powers of the Chief Justice and reshaping both the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary as a whole. As a result of his lobbying, in 1922 Congress created the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges (now the Judicial Conference) and gave the Chief Justice and senior circuit court judges the ability to eliminate delays in the nation's busiest courts by transferring judges between courts. Three years later, he convinced Congress to pass the 1925 Judges' Bill, which tremendously expanded the Supreme Court's certiorari jurisdiction and allowed it to focus on the most important constitutional and statutory questions of the day. These two reforms, taken together, made the Chief Justice the formal head and chief executive of the federal judiciary and greatly increased the power of the Supreme Court. Felix Frankfurter wrote that for his reform work, “Chief Justice Taft had a place in history . . . next http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Supreme Court History Wiley

Chief Justice as Chief Executive: Taft's Judicial Statesmanship

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© Supreme Court Historical Society
ISSN
1059-4329
eISSN
1540-5818
D.O.I.
10.1111/jsch.12165
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

William Howard Taft is the only American to have served as the head of two branches of the national government. After his term as President (1909‐1913), he was appointed Chief Justice in 1921 by his fellow Ohioan, Warren G. Harding. Taft was a remarkable success as Chief Justice, putting his formidable abilities to work strengthening the powers of the Chief Justice and reshaping both the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary as a whole. As a result of his lobbying, in 1922 Congress created the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges (now the Judicial Conference) and gave the Chief Justice and senior circuit court judges the ability to eliminate delays in the nation's busiest courts by transferring judges between courts. Three years later, he convinced Congress to pass the 1925 Judges' Bill, which tremendously expanded the Supreme Court's certiorari jurisdiction and allowed it to focus on the most important constitutional and statutory questions of the day. These two reforms, taken together, made the Chief Justice the formal head and chief executive of the federal judiciary and greatly increased the power of the Supreme Court. Felix Frankfurter wrote that for his reform work, “Chief Justice Taft had a place in history . . . next

Journal

Journal of Supreme Court HistoryWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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