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Federal Judicial History

The Center conducts research and produces resources on the history of the judicial branch of the federal government.  These resources include compilations of historical data on the courts, information about judges and judicial administration, as well as publications on federal judicial history. The Center also maintains a biographical directory of Article III judges from 1789 to the present, engages in outreach and education on federal judicial history, and works to promote the preservation of the history of the judicial branch.

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • "An Act to enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment" (aka Second Enforcement Act, Second KKK Act) was enacted #OTD in 1871; provided right to sue for deprivation of constitutional rights by those acting "under color of law"; origin of current 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983
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  • John C. Watrous, first U.S. district judge for #Texas, who survived a movement to impeach him for misconduct, and retained his commission during the Civil War, resigned from office #OTD in 1870
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  • Chief Judge Bolitha J. Laws of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a 1945 indictment for treason of poet Ezra Pound and ordered him released from D.C. mental hospital #OTD in 1958
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  • The Supreme Court decided Lochner v. New York #OTD in 1905; struck down state law setting maximum hours for bakers as violation of liberty of contract protected by Due Process Clause #SCOTUS
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  • Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas took the oath of office #OTD in 1939; became longest serving justice in #SCOTUS history (1939-1975)
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