« ForrigeFortsett »
the American Tobacco Company. The Tobacco Trust Case, as it was called, was twice argued before the Supreme Court by some of the most eminent lawyers of the day. In its decision, rendered in 1911, this Court fixed into permanence the "rule of reason” which had first been stated in the earlier decision dissolving the Standard Oil Trust. It is not too much to say that this interpretation colored all subsequent development of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and it was certainly a basic factor in the enactment and content of the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914.
Mr. McReynolds' tenure as Attorney General lasted a little over a year, and terminated with his accession to the Bench of this Court. He was nominated by President Wilson in August of 1914, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Horace Harmon Lurton on July 12 of that year. He took his seat on this Bench at the opening of the October 1914 term. He sat as a member of the Court from that time until February 1, 1941, when by retirement he ended twenty-seven years' service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. After retiring he remained in Washington, where he died on August 24, 1946.
I should like to refer, Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices, to the character and philosophy of the late Mr. Justice McReynolds.
I suppose that the salient points in his character and philosophy were a rigid righteousness, an unyielding determination, and unshakable stability. When he felt deeply on a question, his view absorbed him so completely that he had the greatest difficulty in moderating his expression, or in tolerating sustained argument by those who opposed him. Those who were present when this Court rendered its decision in the Gold Clause Cases report that Justice McReynolds was almost beside himself with feeling as he spoke extemporaneously in dissent. He could not be tolerant on an issue which seemed to
him so deeply of the essence of our national honesty and honor. He could not be cool and detached in the face of what he considered to be a repudiation of right conduct on the part of our Government.
Justice McReynolds' judicial philosophy always limited him to the naked question at bar. It prevented him from unnecessarily expressing an opinion on related issues in obiter dicta, and it made his style terse and direct. A well-known manifestation of this characteristic was his three-paragraph dissenting opinion in the case of OregonWashington Railroad & Navigation Company v. State of Washington, in 270 U. S. 87, 103 (1926). There, in discussing the validity of a state statute of Washington, where the Congress had legislated on the broad subject by delegating authority to the Secretary of Agriculture, but where the Secretary had not acted, Justice McReynolds disagreed with the view of the majority of the Court that the State statute was unconstitutional. His style and his philosophy are both illustrated by the concluding paragraph of that short dissent, where he stated that “It is a serious thing to paralyze the efforts of a State to protect her people against impending calamity, and leave them to the slow charity of a far-off and perhaps supine federal bureau. No such purpose should be attributed to Congress unless indicated beyond reasonable doubt.”
Justice McReynolds was persevering and stable in his character and in his views.
Philosophically, morally, professionally, Justice McReynolds remained constant-changing but little, if any. When he began his career he was thought to be rather radical in his views, particularly on public business; when his active life ended in retirement, his position was considered conservative. But Justice McReynolds himself was neither liberal nor conservative. It was simply that the nation was more conservative than he at the beginning of his career, and more liberal at its end. It was the times—the public, popular political preferences, the world situation—that changed and not he. During history's shifting of scenes on the stage of political and social movement, this man remained an enduring rock of fixed location, a philosophical bench mark from which a historian might survey the past or future temper of the nation.
Justice McReynolds could not have been otherwise. His code of honor was inflexible and unyielding. He could no more yield at the end of his career to the proponents of a progressivism with which he disagreed than he could have given way at the beginning of his career to those who upheld the older order. He was strong in his beliefs, and his feeling endured that those beliefs were right.
The late Justice was the prototype of the rugged individualist, believing firmly in man living independently and untrammeled by restrictions. He opposed monopoly and power, whether such power was exercised by private interest or by public, whether it arose from the concentration of wealth and strength in the hands of individual citizens, or whether it resulted from an expansion by the Federal Government, whose authority he feared as overflowing the banks formed by the Constitution.
Contrary to public belief, Mr. Justice McReynolds was not a lonely man. He loved the company of those who shared his views and his principles. He had a big heart for the young and for education. While he was in truth unbending in his political and judicial views, he had all of the human qualities that endeared him to all who knew him. At his death he left large bequests to Centre College-for educational and religious purposes. During his life he followed the practice of giving generously—and anonymously—to charity.
On his daily walks one would hear him inquiring as to the welfare of his neighbors and particularly the youngsters. On some occasions his walks would be interrupted by an unkempt, hurt child. He was never too engrossed or self-contained to stop and bend down on such occasion to console the tot and assuage the pain, and place a coin or two into its little hand.
May it please this Honorable Court: In the name of the lawyers of this nation, and particularly of the Bar of this Court, I respectfully request that the resolution presented to you in memory of the late Justice James Clark McReynolds be accepted by you, and that it, together with the chronicle of these proceedings, be ordered kept for all time in the records of this Court.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE responded: Mr. Attorney General: In receiving the Resolutions which you have presented, the Court expresses deep appreciation for the tribute from the Bar of this Court to the memory of this eminent lawyer, statesman, and jurist—an able and faithful member of this Court, who gave 26 years of his life in its service.
James Clark McReynolds was born in the town of Elkton, Kentucky, in the second year of the War between the States. His ancestry was of the sturdy Scotch-Irish stock which has contributed so greatly to the development of the American republic and which has produced so many distinguished figures in American public life.
James McReynolds grew to maturity during that period in our history in which the American nation was undergoing a transition from a society predominantly agricultural in interests and outlook to a society dominated by the interests and problems of an industrial civilization. He was graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1882 with highest honors, was elected valedictorian of his class and was awarded the Founder's Gold Medal. Two years later, he received his degree in law from the University of Virginia.
At the conclusion of his professional training, he entered into the practice of law in Nashville, Tennessee, where he gained an enviable reputation for diligence, ability, and integrity. During the same period, he supplemented his activities as a practicing attorney by serving as a member of the faculty of law at Vanderbilt University.
In 1903, though a member of the Democratic party, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General in the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and was placed in charge of antitrust prosecutions. He performed his important duties with distinction for four years, leaving his post in 1907 to undertake the practice of law in New York City. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the Department of Justice as Special Assistant to the Attorney General and participated in some of the most important antitrust litigation of the period, including the American Tobacco Company case.
In March 1913, he was appointed Attorney General by the newly elected President, Woodrow Wilson. He served in that capacity until August 1914 when he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Justice Lurton. He was an active member of this Court for over twenty-six years, serving until his retirement on February 1, 1941. Death came at the age of 84 on August 24, 1946. He was buried in the family burial ground in Elkton, Kentucky.
Mr. Justice McReynolds performed his judicial duties during a crucial period in American history. He entered into his office some six weeks after the outbreak of the European phase of the first World War. He left the bench while a second World War was raging overseas. In the intervening period, the nation experienced a major economic depression. Inevitably, the impact of the events of the time gave rise to issues of the highest importance, many of which this Court was called upon to resolve.
To the solution of these perplexing problems, Mr. Justice McReynolds brought a fully matured legal philoso