Wiley Blount Rutledge
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Wiley Blount Rutledge

Wiley Blount Rutledge
Wiley Rutledge.jpg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

February 11, 1943 - September 10, 1949
Franklin D. Roosevelt
James F. Byrnes
Sherman Minton
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

May 2, 1939 - February 14, 1943
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Seat established by 52 Stat. 584
Thurman Arnold
Personal details
Wiley Blount Rutledge Jr.

(1894-07-20)July 20, 1894
Cloverport, Kentucky
DiedSeptember 10, 1949(1949-09-10) (aged 55)
York, Maine
Political partyDemocratic
EducationMaryville College
University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.A.)
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
University of Colorado Law School (LL.B.)

Wiley Blount Rutledge Jr. (July 20, 1894 - September 10, 1949) was an American educator and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and previously was an Associate Justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Early life and education

Rutledge was born in Cloverport, Kentucky (more specifically, at nearby Tar Springs) to Wiley Blount Rutledge Sr. (d. 1944), a Southern Baptist minister,[1] and Mary Lou Wigginton Rutledge (d. 1903). After a brother died in infancy, Wiley's sister Margaret was born in 1897. His family moved about while he was young. He attended Maryville College and then the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating from there in 1914 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Rutledge taught high school in Indiana while attending the present-day Indiana University Maurer School of Law part-time. He later moved to Colorado, and received a Bachelor of Laws in 1922 from the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder.[2] While matriculating at Colorado, Rutledge joined the Pi chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity.[]

Marriage and family

The year he graduated from law school, on August 28, 1917, Rutledge married Annabel Person. The couple had three children: Mary Lou (1922), Jean Ann (1925), and Neal (1927).[3] Rutledge was the great-great-grandson of Edward Rutledge, South Carolina politician and the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence.[4] Edward Rutledge's brother, John Rutledge, was a South Carolina delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and twice nominated by President George Washington to the United States Supreme Court.


Rutledge entered private practice in Boulder from 1922 to 1924. He was an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Colorado from 1924 to 1926. He was a Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law from 1926 to 1935, serving as Acting Dean in 1930 and as Dean from 1931 to 1935.[2] That school's Wiley Rutledge Moot Court Competition is named in his honor.[5][6] He was a Professor of Law and Dean of the University of Iowa College of Law from 1935 to 1939.[6] From this position, Rutledge was a vocal supporter of Franklin Roosevelt's plan to pack the Supreme Court.[]

Federal judicial service

Rutledge was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 21, 1939, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (now the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit), to a new Associate Justice seat authorized by 52 Stat. 584.[6] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 4, 1939, and received his commission on May 2, 1939.[2] His service terminated on February 14, 1943, due to his elevation to the Supreme Court.[2]

Rutledge was nominated by President Roosevelt on January 11, 1943, to the Supreme Court of the United States, to an Associate Justice seat vacated by Associate Justice James F. Byrnes.[7] He was confirmed by the Senate on February 8, 1943, and received his commission on February 11, 1943.[2] He served as Circuit Justice for the Eighth Circuit and Tenth Circuit from March 1, 1943 to September 10, 1949.[2] Rutledge was significantly less conservative than Byrnes and he remained a steady ally of Roosevelt throughout his court career.[7] His service terminated on September 10, 1949, due to his death.[2]

Judicial philosophy

Rutledge articulated strong liberal positions, particularly in his interpretation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He wrote for the court in 1946 in Kotteakos v. United States that "our Government is not one of mere convenience or efficiency. It too has a stake, with every citizen, in his being afforded our historic individual protections, including those surrounding criminal trials. About them we dare not become careless or complacent when that fashion has become rampant over the earth."[8]

Rutledge extended this position to dissent from the Court's decision in Yamashita v. Styer, in which Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita filed for habeas corpus to appeal his conviction for war crimes in World War II. He wrote:[9]

More is at stake than General Yamashita's fate. There could be no possible sympathy for him if he is guilty of the atrocities for which his death is sought. But there can be and should be justice administered according to the law ... It is not too early, it is never too early, for the nation steadfastly to follow its great constitutional traditions, none older or more universally protective against unbridled power than due process of law in the trial and punishment of men, that is, of all men, whether citizens, aliens, alien enemies or enemy belligerents.

According to Justice Frankfurter, Rutledge was part of the more liberal "axis" of justices on the Court, along with Justices Murphy, Douglas, and Black; the group would for years oppose Frankfurter's ideology of judicial restraint.[10] Douglas, Murphy, and then Rutledge were the first justices to agree with Black's notion that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights protection into it; this view would later become law.[11]

Law clerks

One of Rutledge's law clerks, John Paul Stevens, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975.[12] His tenure on the Court influenced Justice Stevens, who had helped Rutledge draft his dissent in Ahrens v. Clark. In 1948, a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that unless detained persons are within the physical jurisdiction of the District Court when they petition for a writ of habeas corpus, that court has no jurisdiction to hear the case. Rutledge dissented, arguing that instead of the jurisdiction deriving from the location of the prisoner, it should instead derive from the custodian, the person responsible for the imprisonment. John Paul Stevens later tracked this case and its application to case law. In 1973, the Supreme Court substantially overturned Ahrens, ruling similarly to how Rutledge would have. Justice Rutledge's views were formally endorsed by the Supreme Court in 2004, when Justice John Stevens ruled in Rasul v. Bush that courts were to consider the location of the custodian, rather than the physical location of the prisoner themselves. This ruling allowed detainees in Guantanamo Bay to sue in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a writ of habeas corpus.[13][14]

Another of his law clerks was Louis H. Pollak, who became a federal judge and dean of Yale Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.


On August 27, 1949, Rutledge was vacationing in Maine. He had a stroke while driving his car and died two weeks later in York, Maine.[3][15][16] His remains are interred at Green Mountain Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Justice Rutledge's Father Dies" (PDF). The New York Times. July 7, 1944. Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Rutledge, Wiley Blount - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  3. ^ a b Staff (September 11, 1949). "Justice Wiley Rutledge Dies of Brain Hemorrhage at 55". The New York Times. New York: The New York Times Co. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ "Wiley Blount Rutledge, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court". geni_family_tree.
  5. ^ "WULS: Trial and Advocacy Program; Moot Court Competitions; Wiley Rutledge Moot Court". Law.wustl.edu. Retrieved 2008.
  6. ^ a b c "Rutledge Named To Appeals Court". The New York Times. March 22, 1939. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ a b Leuchtenburg, William E. (1995). The Supreme Court Reborn. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-19-508613-9. Retrieved 2011. the supreme court reborn.
  8. ^ "Kotteakos v. United States, 328 U.S. 750 (1946)". Justia Law.
  9. ^ "ICRC service". ihl-databases.icrc.org.
  10. ^ Ball, Howard. Hugo L. Black: Cold Steel Warrior. Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-19-507814-4. Page 14.
  11. ^ Ball, Howard. Hugo L. Black: Cold Steel Warrior. Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-19-507814-4. pp. 212-213.
  12. ^ Jeffrey Toobin, "After Stevens", The New Yorker, March 22, 2010.
  13. ^ "Rasul v. Bush". www.oyez.org.
  14. ^ "Ahrens v. Clark, 335 U.S. 188 (1948)". Justia Law.
  15. ^ Staff (September 12, 1949). "Justice's Death Blamed on Overwork". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. AP. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ "Wiley Blount Rutledge (IA) - US Supreme Court Associate Justice". Constitutional Law Reporter.
  17. ^ Hall, Kermit L., ed. (1992). The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 877. ISBN 0-19-505835-6.


Further reading

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 52 Stat. 584

Succeeded by
Thurman Arnold
Preceded by
James F. Byrnes
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Succeeded by
Sherman Minton

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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