Hugo Black

Black, Hugo LaFayette

Hugo LaFayette Black, 1886–1971, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1937–71), b. Harlan, Clay co., Ala. He received his law degree from the Univ. of Alabama in 1906. He practiced law and held local offices before serving (1927–37) in the U.S. Senate. As senator he ardently supported New Deal measures, conducted Senate investigations of merchant-marine subsidies (1933) and lobbying (1935), and sponsored (1937) the Wages and Hours bill. His appointment to the Supreme Court by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met strong opposition from the public and in the Senate because of his earlier membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Black was, however, a staunch defender of civil liberties, and he became the leader of the activists on the Supreme Court, consistently opposing congressional and state violations of free speech and due process. He was also an originalist, relying on a close reading of the Constitution to free the document from years of conservative precedents.

See T. E. Yarbrough, Mr. Justice Black and His Critics (1989); study by V. Hamilton (1972); N. Feldman, Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hugo Black: Selected full-text books and articles

Hugo L. Black: A Study in the Judicial Process By Charlotte Williams Johns Hopkins Press, 1950
Hugo Black: The Alabama Years By Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton Louisiana State University Press, 1972
Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949 By Glenn Feldman University of Alabama Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "1930s Causes Celebres: Scottsboro and Hugo Black"
Landmark Supreme Court Cases: A Reference Guide By Donald E. Lively Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer" begins on p. 22, "Korematsu v. United States" begins on p. 102, and "Everson v. Board of Education, Township of Ewing" begins on p. 259
John Marshall Harlan: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court By Tinsley E. Yarbrough Oxford University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Justice and Company"
Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases By Bernard Schwartz Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Nixon, Black, and Time v. Hill" begins on p. 174
Leaders and Liberals in 20th Century America By Charles A. Madison Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1961
Librarian’s tip: "Hugo L. Black: New Deal Justice" begins on p. 363
Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court By Henry J. Abraham Oxford University Press, 1992 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court" and Chap. 10 "The Warren Court: From Ike to LBJ, 1953-1969"
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