Tags: Supreme Court | trumprooseveltmurphysupremecourtconfirmation

Last Court Choice in Reelection Year Was Confirmed in 11 Days

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By Sunday, 20 September 2020 01:23 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As Democrats vow a battle royale over the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s eventual nominee to the Supreme Court, correspondents who cover the White House and Supreme Court are almost unanimous in predicting a protracted fight.

This is the polar opposite of the situation the last time a president named someone to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in the year he was up for election.

That was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was up for a third term in 1940. On Jan. 5, FDR named Frank Murphy, who had been his attorney general for about one year, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Pierce Butler.

A former Democrat mayor of Detroit and governor of Michigan, Murphy was a committed civil libertarian who favored minorities, women, and labor.

In effect, Murphy was the antithesis of Butler. Appointed by Republican President Warren G. Harding in 1923, he became known in the Depression of the 1930s as one of the “Four Horseman” — four justices on the high court who almost consistently struck down parts of FDR’s New Deal program, including the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Recovery Administration.

But Senate Republicans voiced little dissent over such a dramatic ideological change in justices. In fact, there was next to no debate on the Murphy nomination before the Senate confirmed him by voice vote on Jan. 16 — 11 days after it received his nomination.

On Feb. 4, Murphy was sworn in as a justice of the high court.

To no one’s surprise, Murphy voted a straight liberal and pro-civil liberties line while on the bench. He is perhaps best-known for his vigorous dissent in Korematsu v. the United States, in which the court upheld the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. The majority opinion, Murphy wrote, was tantamount to “the legalization of racism.”

It is highly doubtful Murphy would experience such smooth sailing if he were a nominee to the Supreme Court today. A career politician, he had never served as a judge at any level.

Murphy had another potentially explosive problem. When he became attorney general, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover opened a file on his new boss. According to Hoover biographer Curt Gentry, “[l]ike Hoover, Murphy was a lifelong bachelor; unlike him, the former Michigan governor was a ‘notorious womanizer’ with apparently little regard for the marital status of his conquests (one Washington hostess allegedly took a shot at Murphy, causing him and her other dinner guests to flee through the windows.)”

In 1949, Justice Murphy announced the end of his bachelorhood with his engagement to then-girlfriend Joan Cuddihy. On July 19, a month before his scheduled wedding, he died of coronary thrombosis.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As Democrats vow a battle royal over the confirmation of President Trump's eventual nominee to the Supreme Court, correspondents who cover the White House and Supreme Court are almost unanimous in predicting a protracted fight. This is the polar opposite of the situation...
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2020-23-20
Sunday, 20 September 2020 01:23 PM
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