Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
Chief Justice of the United States
August 19, 1937
September 17, 1971
Appointed by
Franklin D
Chief Justice of the United States
Appointed by


prior justice: 
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The weekend before Memorial Day of 2023, I took a trip to Washington DC. On the morning of the 25th, I made my way to Arlington National Cemetery as there are a lot of justice burials there (as well as a couple presidents).

Black has a fairly unassuming stone compared with his other courtmates - he has the military-issue stone from the federal government for his service in World War I. It can be found in a row a couple rows behind the monumental grave of Robert Todd Lincoln, which is a good landmark for this part of the cemetery.

I feel a special connection to Hugo Black, if for no other reason than he demonstrates that your life is more than the worst thing you've ever done. Perhaps it's my Christian upbringing, but I believe resolutely and foundationally that a person can be redeemed. Black was born and raised in Alabama and as such, sought to make political connections by joining the Ku Klux Klan. And by all accounts, he adhered to its mission. He soon was elected to the US Senate, and from there nominated by FDR to the Supreme Court. Word of his Klan affiliation made national news after his confirmation. He made a statement denouncing the Klan just once and never spoke of it again- and went on to become a firebrand liberal, and the Court's champion for equality and civil rights - his crowning achievement being his joining the unanimous opinion in Brown v Board of Education.

Also worthy of note, a lot of conservatives identify themselves as "originalists." What they often don't mention is that originalism used to be a liberal thing - founded by none other than Justice Black.



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