Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was a lawyer and Republican politician from the State of New York. He served as Governor of New York (1907-1910), United States Secretary of State (1921-1925), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1910-1916) and Chief Justice of the United States (1930-1941). He was the Republican candidate in the 1916 U.S. Presidential election, losing to Woodrow Wilson.
After attending Madison College (now Colgate University), Hughes graduated from Brown University in 1881 and taught school to earn money for law school. He graduated Columbia Law School in 1884 and entered law practice. A high-profile case in which he uncovered corruption in the New York State utility industry positioned him to win elected office in 1906; he defeated William Randolph Hearst to become Governor of New York. Hughes was offered the vice-presidential nomination in 1908 by William Howard Taft but declined. In October 1910, Hughes was appointed by Taft as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Hughes resigned from the Supreme Court on June 16, 1916 to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States in the U.S. presidential election, 1916; after losing the election he returned to the practice of law, and he re-entered government service as United States Secretary of State under President Harding.
Herbert Hoover, who had appointed Hughes' son as the Solicitor General in 1929, appointed Hughes as the Chief Justice of the United States in 1930, in which capacity he served until 1941. On August 27, 1948, Hughes died in Osterville, Massachusetts. His New York City law firm is now known as Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.
Hughes went to Madison University (now Colgate University) where he became a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity, then transferred to Brown University, where he continued as a member of Delta Upsilon and graduated in 1881 at age 19, youngest in his class, receiving second-highest honors. For the next two years he worked at Stevens Institute Academy in Davenport, Florida, where he taught the Japanese language, Latin, and Calculus in order to earn money for law school. He entered Columbia Law School in 1882, and he graduated in 1884 with highest honors.
In 1885, he met Antoinette Carter, the daughter of a senior partner of the law firm where he worked, and the were married in 1888. They had one son and two daughters, one of whom was Elizabeth Hughes Gossett, one of the first humans injected with insulin, and who later served as president of the Supreme Court Historical Society.
In 1891, Hugehes left the practice of law to become a professor at the Cornell University Law School, but in 1893 he returned to his old law firm in New York City. At that time, in addition to practicing law he taught at New York Law School with Woodrow Wilson. In 1905, he was appointed as counsel to a New York state legislative committee investigating utility rates. His uncovering of corruption led to lower gas rates in New York City. As a result, he was appointed to investigate the insurance industry in New York
Hughes served as the Governor of New York from 1907 to 1910. He defeated William Randolph Hearst in the 1906 election to gain the position, and he was the only Republican statewide candidate to win office. In 1908, he was offered the vice-presidential nomination by William Howard Taft, but he declined it to run again for Governor.
As Governor, he pushed the passage of the Moreland Act, which gave him the power as governor to oversee civic officials as well officials in state bureaucracies. This allowed him to fire many corrupt officials. He also managed to have the powers of the state's Public Service Commissions increased, and he attempted unsuccessfully to have their decisions exempted from judicial review. When two bills were passed to reduce railroad fares, Hughes vetoed them on that grounds that the rates should be set by expert commissioners rather than by elected ones. In his final year as the Governor, he had the state comptroller draw up an executive budget. This began a rationalization of state government and eventually it led to an enhancement of executive authority.
When Hughes left office, a prominent journal remarked "One can distinctly see the coming of a New Statism ... [of which] Gov. Hughes has been a leading prophet and exponent".
In 1909, he led an effort to incorporate Delta Upsilon fraternity. This was the first fraternity to incorporate, and he served as its first international president.
In 1926, Hughes was appointed by Governor Alfred E. Smith to be the chairman of a State Reorganization Commission through which Smith's plan to place the Governor as the head of a rationalized state government, was accomplished, bringing to realization what Hughes himself had envisioned.
Hughes returned to private law practice, again at his old firm, Hughes, Rounds, Schurman & Dwight, today known as Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.
After leaving the State Department, he again rejoined his old partners at the Hughes firm, which included his son and future United States Solicitor General Charles E. Hughes, Jr., and was one of the nation's most sought-after advocates. From 1925 to 1930, for example, Hughes argued over 50 times before the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1926 to 1930, Hughes also served as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and as a judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands from 1928 to 1930. He was additionally a delegate to the Pan American Conference on Arbitration and Conciliation from 1928 to 1930. He was one of the co-founders in 1927 of the National Conference on Christians and Jews, now known as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), along with S. Parkes Cadman and others, to oppose the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Semitism in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1928 conservative business interests tried to interest Hughes in the GOP presidential nomination of 1928 instead of Herbert Hoover.
Hughes, citing his age, turned down the offer.
His appointment was opposed by progressive elements in both parties who felt that he was too friendly to big business. Idaho Republican William E. Borah said on the United States Senate floor that "placing upon the Court as Chief Justice one whose views are known upon these vital and important questions and whose views, in my opinion however sincere entertained, are not which ought to be incorporated in and made a permanent part of our legal and economic system." Nonetheless Hughes was confirmed as Chief Justice with a vote of 52 to 26.
As Chief Justice, he led the fight against Franklin D. Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court. He wrote the opinion for the Court in Near v. Minnesota , which held prior restraints against the press are unconstitutional. He was often aligned with Justices Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo in finding President Roosevelt's New Deal measures to be Constitutional. Although he wrote the opinion invalidating the National Recovery Administration in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , he wrote the opinions for the Court in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. , NLRB v. Friedman-Harry Marks Clothing Co., , and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish which looked favorably on New Deal Measures.