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Favorable or Unfavorable #314: Melville Fuller


Favorable or Unfavorable #314: Melville Fuller  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #314: Melville Fuller

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Chief Justice Melville Fuller (IL-D) began his career as a Douglas Democrat. During the Civil War, he was something of a Copperhead after initially supporting the war effort. While he didn't oppose the war, he strongly opposed Lincoln's handling of it and his effort to free slaves nationwide. He thought stats should decide. Following the CW, he evolved into a Bourbon Democrat, becoming an Illinois state ally of Cleveland.

Fuller was virtually unknown outside of legal circles when he was nominated CHJ. Some opposed his nomination on his obscurity while others opposed him because he was critical of Lincoln during the CW. 

His ChJ legacy is a little poor, primarily because he voted very much with the prejudices of his time. Those who strongly favor limited government tend to have a better view of him, especially as he can be seen as a check on the Progressive Era. Like many SC Justice's he refused to retire when he was on the decline. He served about 10 years longer than he should have. 

His actions:

Fuller, Melville 1862 As state politician opposes any sort of Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln, arguing for states to decide
Fuller, Melville 1884 Strong supporter of Cleveland
Fuller, Melville 1888 Advises Cleveland to appoint John Scholfield as ChJ, but Scholfield declines
Fuller, Melville 1888 Confirmed ChJ of the SC for Cleveland, despite initial mixed reactions
Fuller, Melville 1889 Swears in Harrison
Fuller, Melville 1893 Swears in Cleveland
Fuller, Melville 1893 Turns down offer of Sec of State from Cleveland
Fuller, Melville 1895 Presides over case, joining majority to strike down federal income tax (Pollock v Farmers Loan)
Fuller, Melville 1896 Presides over the infamous Plessy v Ferguson case which upheld segregation and Jim Crow laws, joining majority
Fuller, Melville 1897 Swears in McKinley
Fuller, Melville 1898 Joins minority in arguing against birthright citizenship in US v Wong Kim Ark
Fuller, Melville 1901 Swears in McKinley for 2nd term
Fuller, Melville 1905 Swears in TR for his full term
Fuller, Melville 1905 Presides during Lochner case, which for over 30 years would be used to striked down pro-worker regulations, joining majority
Fuller, Melville 1909 Swears in Taft
Fuller, Melville 1910 Dies in office, his health having been in decline for a decade
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