John Marshall Harlan

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Harlan, John Marshall,

1899–1971, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1955–71), b. Chicago; grandson of John Marshall Harlan. He received his law degree from New York Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1925; he practiced in New York City. He was an assistant U.S. attorney (1925–27), special assistant attorney general of New York state (1928–30), and chief counsel to the New York State Crime Commission (1951–53). Harlan was a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2d Circuit, from 1954 to 1955, when he was appointed by President Eisenhower to replace Justice Robert H. Jackson on the Supreme Court. A conservative on the court, he held a narrow view of the court's power, believing that the Union judiciary should not interfere in state and local matters, and that political and social evils should be corrected through the political process and not through court action; he nevertheless sided with the majority on many civil-rights cases. Harlan retired from the court in late 1971, shortly before his death.

Harlan, John Marshall,

1833–1911, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1877–1911), b. Boyle co., Ky., grad. Centre College, 1850. Admitted to the bar in 1853, he served in the Civil War as a colonel in the Union army until 1863, when he became attorney general of Kentucky. He took a leading part in the violent political struggles of the day, becoming after the war a leader of the conservative Republicans; he was defeated for the governorship, however, in 1872 and 1875. As head of the Kentucky delegation to the Republican national convention in 1876, he played a leading role in the nomination of Rutherford B. HayesHayes, Rutherford Birchard,
1822–93, 19th President of the United States (1877–81), b. Delaware, Ohio, grad. Kenyon College, 1843, and Harvard law school, 1845. He became a moderately successful lawyer in Cincinnati and was made (1858) city solicitor.
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. In Oct., 1877, Hayes appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A man of strong and independent convictions and, on the whole, a strict constructionist, Harlan became known as a dissenter. In the "insular cases" (1901) he protested against the decision that denied the residents of the new U.S. possessions the national benefits of the Constitution. He upheld the police power of the states, dissented in the civil-rights cases (1883) and the income-tax case (1894), and argued that the court had no right to read the word unreasonable into the Sherman Act in the decisions against the Standard Oil and American Tobacco trusts. A firm defender of civil liberties and civil rights, Justice Harlan dissented vigorously in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), in which the Supreme Court enunciated the "separate but equal" doctrine justifying segregation. In 1893, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him to the tribunal to settle the Bering Sea Fur-Seal Controversy (see under Bering SeaBering Sea,
c.878,000 sq mi (2,274,020 sq km), northward extension of the Pacific Ocean between Siberia and Alaska. It is screened from the Pacific proper by the Aleutian Islands. The Bering Strait connects it with the Arctic Ocean.
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) at Paris.


See the memoirs of his wife, M. S. Harlan, Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854–1911 (2002); F. B. Clark, The Constitutional Doctrines of Justice Harlan (1915); F. Latham, The Great Dissenter (1970).

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Harlan, John Marshall

(1899–1971) Supreme Court justice; born in Chicago (grandson of Supreme Court justice John M. Harlan, 1833–1911). He held a number of public positions before President Eisenhower named him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1954–55) and then to the U.S. Supreme Court (1955–71).

Harlan, John Marshall

(1833–1911) Supreme Court justice; born in Boyle County, Ky. Active in Kentucky politics, he served as state attorney general (1863–67) and twice ran unsuccessfully for governor (1871 and 1875). He was instrumental in Rutherford Hayes's presidential campaign (1876) and subsequently President Hayes named him to the U.S. Supreme Court (1877–1911).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.