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Favorable or Unfavorable #95: Henry Billings Brown


Favorable or Unfavorable #95: Henry Billings Brown  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #95: Henry Billings Brown

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Justice Henry Billings Brown of MI was a typically conservative justice on the court.

His 1895 action needs some elaboration. From Jackson to FDR, the major issue dividing Dems and GOP (and Whigs before them) was the tariff. The GOP wanted a high tariff that generated federal revenue and would defend US industries from cheaper, foreign goods. Democrats wanted a low tariff for revenue only, even if it meant Americans were purchasing cheaper foreign goods. Some argued the tariff killed exports because other nations often would retaliate by raising their tariff on the US. 

Anyway, Cleveland and Democrats finally had the power to lower the tariff, but the costs of government had drastically increased following the Civil War. The tariff could only be lowered so much, especially if it was to get some Republicans supporting it. The compromise was to apply an income tax to generate some of the revenue, so that the tariff could be lowered further. Prior to this time, income tax was applied only as a temporary wartime thing. This was the first peacetime income tax attempt. HB Brown supported it (or at least thought it Constitutional), despite being a conservative Republican, but most of the judges thought it was unconstitutional. The income tax was generally supported by reformists and progressives only at this time. Some conservatives, such as Taft and Aldrich, came around to it by 1909 partially as a means to stave off Socialism and save capitalism. 

His actions:

Brown, Henry Billings 1889 Considered for SC vacancy by Harrison
Brown, Henry Billings 1890 Confirmed to SC for Harrison
Brown, Henry Billings 1895 Supported income tax in dissent of Pollock v Farmers' Loan
Brown, Henry Billings 1896 Writes majority opinion in Plessy v Ferguson, upholding segregation
Brown, Henry Billings 1906 Resigns from SC b/c eyesight
Brown, Henry Billings 1910 Comes out against women's suffrage
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