Born on a farm near Stromsburg, Nebraska on May 12, 1878, he attended Bryant Normal University in Stromsburg. He graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1901 and University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1903. He served as clerk and recorder of Polk County, Nebraska from 1906 to 1909. He became mayor of Osceola, Nebraska from 1908 to 1909. He moved to a farm near Polk, Nebraska and farmed from 1910 to 1922.
He was elected member of the Nebraska House of Representatives from 1911 to 1918, becoming a member of the State constitutional convention in 1919 and 1920. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Nebraska in 1924 because the then-current democratic governor, Charles W. Bryan, was running for the office of Vice President of the United States. Both he and Charles W. Bryan lost, and Mr. Norton became a Chautauqua and Lyceum lecturer from 1922 to 1927. He was elected as a Democrat to the Seventieth Congress (March 4, 1927-March 3, 1929), unsuccessfully running for reelection in 1928 to the Seventy-first Congress. He then was elected to the Seventy-second Congress (March 4, 1931-March 3, 1933) and again unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1932 against former governor Ashton C. Shallenberger.
He was a representative and adviser to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration from June 1933 to December 1936. He became a member of the Nebraska unicameral legislature from 1937 and 1938, and was a special adviser in the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation in Washington, D.C. from 1939 to 1948. He died in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 1960 and is buried in Swede Plain Cemetery in Polk County. His daughter, Evelyn Maurine Norton Lincoln was in the motorcade when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and was his personal secretary before then.