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Favorable or Unfavorable #288: Stephen J Field


Favorable or Unfavorable #288: Stephen J Field  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #288: Stephen J Field

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SJ Field (CA-D) is the second longest serving SC justice in history. Despite this, he seemed really unfit for this role considering his personality. He was prone to grudges, brow-beating, duels, racism, etc. The 1889 assassination attempt was kind of provoked, but it doesn't justify a murder attempt. He had extra deep pockets in his coats and robes so he could carry two pistols with enough room to fire the guns through his clothing. 

I'm a little surprised Lincoln made him a justice, but he wanted a Westerner and a War Democrat. He probably knew nothing personally about Field, who was physically on the other side of the nation. 

I should also note that while he used racist anti-Chinese language in the 1889 case (he actually did in other cases involving Chinese), he did defend Chinese people in two minor cases when it was unpopular in his own state. I think he was racist, but I think he typically followed the Constitution. I think his biggest error, aside from the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson vote, was the 1880 case. That was basically pure racism. He was joined by just 1 other justice in that. I'm not sure why one wouldn't think it was a violation to purposely exclude blacks from juries, including in instances that a black person is on trial. It's supposed to be a jury of peers. A white jury in a racial segregated town is going to possibly be an unfair jury. 

His actions:

Field, Stephen J 1859 Appt Chief Justice of CA SC because previous Ch J killed US Sen Broderick in duel
Field, Stephen J 1863 Confirmed to SC to new seat for Lincoln despite being a Democrat
Field, Stephen J 1873 Dissent in Slaughterhouse cases
Field, Stephen J 1880 Dem Pres Cand
Field, Stephen J 1880 Dissents in Strauder v. WV, as he believed excluding blacks from juries wasn't a violation of the 14th Amendment
Field, Stephen J 1889 Pens his opinion Chae Chan Ping v US filled with racist anti-Chinese language
Field, Stephen J 1889 Survives assassination attempt by the CA SC he replaced in 1859, who was killed by Field's bodyguard
Field, Stephen J 1895? Resists pressure to resign b/c of senility b/c wants to break Marshall's tenure record
Field, Stephen J 1896 Votes w/ majority in upholding segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson
Field, Stephen J 1897 Compelled to resign from SC due to senility after 34 years on the court
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