The judicial system of any country holds a very prominent role in its prosperity. It is important that any judicial system holds a very strong history as it is an integral part of government. Similarly the Judicial system in America has played a very dominant role in maintaining the prosperity in the country. However, the history of Appointments in US Supreme Court is always in controversy.
Without any doubt, the judges, members and presidents who had the appointments in the court, had done their best in their field but they are also notorious for their indignation, drama, chaos and much more. We can say that controversies are associated with every person who got the appointment in American Judiciary of which some got the attention of the public, and others were shadowed and remained hidden.
Here in this article, we are giving a brief description of top 10 controversial Supreme Court appointments in USA but remember, these are not the only ten, there are much more to be explored.
10. William Brennan Jr.
One of the most controversial appointments in US is the appointment of William Brennan. He served the Supreme Court of United States from 1956 to 1990 that makes 34 years. His serving tenure is one of the longest tenure in American judiciary. Owing to his liberal attitude and outspoken nature he was well known American Jurist. The appointment of this liberal jurist was done by President Dwight Eisenhower who was a Republican of his times.
The controversy lies behind the appointment of William in the middle of ongoing elections when Congress was facing the recess. His appointment was a huge surprise though and the senate confirmed his appointment soon after Eisenhower secured his second term presidency. After 3 years of his retirement, Brennan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton, the president.
9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
She was the one of the second female American Jurists, whose appointment was one of the controversial appointments in American Judiciary. She was appointed by the President Bill Clinton in 1993 and since then she is among the three ladies who served Supreme Court. Before her appointment as a judge, she was an activist, who worked as an advocate for the rights of women in the country.
She was also a prominent member of American Civil Liberties Union. She was subjected to answer in front of Senate Judiciary committee but she did not appear in front of them and said that it was unjust to bring her to question and denied the Senate. But still she received 96 votes from Senate that approved. The controversy behind her appointment is still a mystery.
8. Louis Brandeis
Louis Brandeis was a lawyer as well as associate justice in America. He was called People’s Lawyer for his selfless work and Robin Hood of the law for his labor laws. In 1916, after less than a year of his appointment, he was nominated for America’s first Jewish Supreme court justice. This nomination was done by President Woodrow Wilson and he was criticized for that by American Bar Association.
The President William Taft regarded it as an evil and a disgrace. However later on, he also worked alongside Brandies for 9 years. The more surprising thing was Senate’s reaction for Brandeis nominee, in which they conducted public hearing and dragged the case for 4 months to select Brandeis. Eventually he was confirmed by Senate by receiving 47 votes whereas 21 Republicans voted against him.
7. Abe Fortas
The appointment of Abe Fortas was one of the most controversial appointments. He served the US Supreme Court for four years from 1965 to 1969. He was appointed by Lyndon Johnson and both of them worked closely and were like pals. Johnson also tried to nominate Fortas for the position of Chief Justice. However this nomination was criticized and faced many issues.
He became the victim of many scandals related to his personal foundation and tapping of his calls. Later on owing to the ethical problems Fortas was forced to resign from Supreme Court in disgrace after receiving many threats to resign. After that he returned to his private practice at the age of only 56 years old.
6. Stanley Matthews
Stanley Matthews was one of those judge in Supreme Court whose appointment was controversial. He was an associate justice on US Supreme Court who gave his services for 8 years. He was a senator before his appointment in the Supreme Court. His appointment was conducted by President Rutherford B. Hayes. However that was not confirmed by Senate owing to its controversial nature and was made near the ending time of Hayes.
Later on the next president, James A. Garfield also nominated Mathews and he was approved by the Senate by votes of 24 to 23. He was considered as an outspoken and infamous for helping two slaves in escaping. He served the Supreme Court from 1881 to his death in 1889.
5. Roger Taney
Roger Taney was one of the Chief Justices in US Supreme Court whose appointment was considered as controversial appointments. He served the Supreme Court for a long tenure starting from 1836 and ending at his death in 1864. He delivered infamous majority opinion that is responsible for his popularity. He was of the opinion that minorities are inferior, like African American and others, and they should not be considered as the citizens of America.
Such kind of statements given by Roger outraged the abolitionists. He was friends with Jackson who supported his nomination in the Supreme Court but his nominee was rejected but after a few months, chief justice John Marshal was dead and the vacant seat was taken by Taney after his renomination. He was basically a Jacksonian Democrat that he held upon throughout his tenure. He opposed the government attempts to give the rights of individuals.
4. John Rutledge
John Rutledge is among those Supreme Court Justices, whose appointment was controversial. He was the second Chief Justice of US Supreme Court. Not only a lawyer and judge, he was also a delegate to Stamp Act Congress and Constitutional Act. He was nominated for Associate Justice in 1789 by first president George Washington. In the year 1791, he resigned from his post to become the chief justice in Supreme Court of North Carolina.
Although he was suffering from a mental illness after the death of his wife but still he got nominated for the chief justice and got appointment over there.Throughout his tenure, he had used his powers illegally and advantage of being the chief justice. He also criticized the Chief justice of Great Britain for their participation in War. Owing to his irresponsible and unethical attitude, he was removed from his appointment after 5 days by Senate and was regarded as alcoholic.
3. Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice in US Supreme Court and he is the second African American to enjoy this post. However his appointment is considered as a controversial one. President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas in the year 1991 to replace the position of another African American Associate Justice, Marshal. Owing to his infamous background, his nomination was considered controversial and it was feared that he might affect the progress and prosperity of nation.
He was also blamed by one of his coworkers Anita Hill for sexual harassment although he rejected the claim on him but still it created a chaos. That blaming and fighting went viral in public and Senate tried to solve it for around 100 days and to find the reality behind it and Thomas was declared innocent with no evidence found against him and his appointment was made with 52-48 votes.
2. Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon served as 37th president of United States, that was one of the most controversial appointments but all that happened in the time when four justices were needed, indeed a rare happening it was. Later on he was nominated to replace the Chief Justice Earl Warren. After a year later, Fortas made his resignation and another seat for Associate was vacant that was taken by Haynsworth even after his controversial history.
Nixon tried again for his position against G. Harold Carswell, and Carswell nominee was rejected. Later on Nixon tried to make many controversial nominees like Mildred Lillie the first female who was rejected for being unqualified for the post.Finally Lewis Powell Jr. was appointed along with Rehnquist to serve with Nixon.
1. Nominees of First Ever Supreme Court
The first ever developed Supreme Court was a controversy all in all. It was consisted as one of the most of the controversial appointments in history under the influence of power and competition. The court was struggling for its survival rather than considering the appointments. In 1790, the court convened after the judiciary act if 1789 and the number of its members was 6 instead of 9 that were decided by Congress. The justices appointed were preoccupied by the circuit riding duties and the early meeting of every justice was associated with organizational issues. It took almost one year to deal with actual cases in the Supreme Court. The first Chief Justice John Jay also took his retirement early to become the Governor of New York and left the seat of chief justice of Supreme Court. After that the appointments of John Rutledge followed by Oliver Ellsworth were done that were controversies of their time.