Morrison Remick Waite

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Waite, Morrison Remick

(wāt), 1816–88, American jurist, 7th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1874–88), b. Lyme, Conn. Admitted to the bar in 1839, he became prominent when he represented the United States in prosecuting the Alabama claimsAlabama claims,
claims made by the U.S. government against Great Britain for the damage inflicted on Northern merchant ships during the American Civil War by the Alabama
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. It was Waite's task as chief justice to help interpret the amendments to the Constitution that were adopted after the Civil War. His interpretation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth AmendmentFourteenth Amendment,
addition to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 1868. The amendment comprises five sections. Section 1

Section 1 of the amendment declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens and citizens of their state
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 was long influential. Waite maintained that only businesses "clothed with a public interest" might be subject to economic regulation by the states; e.g., a state might set the rates charged by a grain elevator but not the prices of a haberdasher. The Supreme Court essentially adhered to this position until the 1930s.


See biographies by B. R. Trimble (1938, repr. 1970) and C. P. Magrath (1963).

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Waite, Morrison Remick

(1816–88) Supreme Court chief justice; born in Lyme, Conn. He practiced corporate and railroad law before serving on the Ohio Supreme Court (1863–71). He was President Grant's third choice for chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court after Congress refused to confirm two prior nominees. His tenure on the Supreme Court (1874–88) was marked with important cases involving the new Fourteenth Amendment.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.