Little-known Facts About Supreme Court Justices
By
October 18, 2017

John Marshall’s greatest disappointment in life was being unable to grow a ponytail as long and bushy as Thomas Jefferson’s.  

Although Potter Stewart famously claimed to know pornography when he saw it, those who knew him well agreed that he had difficulty distinguishing politeness from genuine affection, sympathy from condescension, and weather balloons from UFOs.

Not only did John Catron steal Philip Pendleton Barber’s jokes, he also completely botched the punchlines. This led Barber to challenge Catron to a duel that was averted only when Caltron repeatedly forgot to bring his pistol to work.

William Brennan once penned a law review article passionately arguing that a wrongful civil act should be known as a “torte” and a rich cake a “tort,” an idea many legal scholars believe to be ahead of its time.

Bushrod Washington frequently, but unsuccessfully, exhorted his colleagues to call him “The B-Man.”

Levi Woodbury had an exceptionally close relationship with his fellow justices and would often sit on Robert Grier’s lap during oral arguments.

Wiley Rutledge, a man of many phobias, had a morbid fear of unshelled nuts and once ran screaming into the men’s room when offered a dish of Planters at a luncheon.

Peter Vivian Daniel had two distinct personalities.  “Peter” was friendly and self-effacing.  “Vivian” was a real diva.

Ironically, Thurgood Marshall, the fervent champion of equality, had a great distaste for those with gaps between their front teeth, once referring to them in private correspondence as “a markedly inferior class of people.”

Captured by the British in 1782, Henry Brockholst Livingston’s captors eventually set him free after he incessantly pleaded in a high-pitched whine: “May Henry Brockholst go home now?”

Legal scholars are divided as to whether Alfred Moore, who stood only 4’5, was absent from the Court when Marbury v. Madison was decided or simply overlooked. 

James McReynolds was a racist and an anti-Semite.  Other than that, he seemed nice enough.

For the past five years, Stephen Breyer has paid a look-alike to perform his judicial duties, preferring to spend time with his beloved pet ferret, Isadora.  

Louis Brandeis had low self-esteem and often asserted that his cousin, Morty, who owned several dry cleaning stores in the Louisville area, was the real success in the family. 

Samuel Nelson was appointed to the Court by President John Tyler primarily because of  Nelson’s innovative facial hair, which the President referred to as “an ideal compromise between mutton-chops and a full beard.”

Salmon Portland Chase hated salmon and refused to visit Portland, facts that some attributed to self-loathing.

In meetings with his law clerks, Samuel Alito frequently analogizes the facts of a case to the plots of his favorite episodes of the 70’s sitcom the Facts of Life.

Statisticians agree that the odds of any future appointee to the Supreme Court having as cool a name as Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar are infinitesimal.

Despite his considerable achievements, Oliver Wendell Holmes never completed what he believed would be his master work: turning Prosser on Torts into an erotic thriller.

 

 

 
 

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