harlan fisk stone

Harlan Fiske Stone


Harlan Fiske Stone (October 11 1872April 22 1946) was an American lawyer and jurist. A native of New Hampshire he served as the dean of Columbia Law School, his alma mater in the early 20th century. He was a member of the Republican Party. He was appointed as the 52nd Attorney General of the United States before becoming an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Stone would become the 12th Chief Justice of the court in 1941, serving until his death in 1946.

Early years

Stone was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, to Fred L. and Ann S. (Butler) Stone. He prepared at Amherst High School, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College in 1894.

From 1894 to 1895 he was the submaster of Newburgh High School. From 1895 to 1896 he was an instructor in history at Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, New York.

Legal career

Stone attended Columbia Law School from 1895 to 1898 and was admitted to the New York bar in 1898. Stone practiced law in New York City, initially as a member of the firm Satterlee, Sullivan & Stone, and later a partner in the firm Sullivan & Cromwell. From 1899 to 1902 he lectured on law at Columbia Law School; he was a professor there from 1902 to 1905; and eventually became the school's dean from 1910 to 1923. He lived in The Colosseum (apartment building) near campus.

In 1924, he was appointed United States Attorney General by his Amherst classmate and then-President Calvin Coolidge. As Attorney General, Stone was responsible for the appointment of J. Edgar Hoover as head of the Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation, which was to become the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In 1925, Stone was appointed an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, becoming Coolidge's only appointment to the Court.

During the 1932–1937 Supreme Court terms, Stone, along with Justices Brandeis and Cardozo, was considered a member of the Three Musketeers, which was considered to be the liberal faction of the Supreme Court. The three were highly supportive of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs, which many of the other Supreme Court Justices opposed. For example, he wrote for the court in United States v. Darby, , which upheld challenged provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Stone also authored the Court's opinion in United States v. Carolene Products Co., , which, in its famous "Footnote 4," provided a roadmap for judicial review in the post-Lochner v. New York era.

Stone's support of the New Deal brought him in Roosevelt's favor, and in 1941 the President elevated him to Chief Justice, a position that he occupied for the rest of his life.

Chief Justice

As Chief Justice, Stone spoke for the Court in upholding the President's power to try Nazi saboteurs by military tribunals in Ex parte Quirin, . Stone also wrote one of the major opinions in establishing the standard for state courts to have personal jurisdiction over litigants in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, .

As Chief Justice, Stone described the Nuremberg court as "a fraud" to Germans (Alpheus T. Mason, Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law, New York: Viking, 1956, p. 716).

In 1946, at the age of 73, Stone died of a cerebral hemorrhage that struck on the bench as he read his dissent in Girouard v. United States, . (He opposed overturning precedents that would have barred a Seventh-day Adventist from being naturalized as a U.S. citizen if he refused to take up military arms during wartime despite being willing to serve as a conscientious objector.) He is the only Supreme Court Justice to have died during an open court session.

To date, Justice Stone is the only justice to have physically filled all nine seats on the bench, having incrementally moved "seniority" positions from most junior Associate Justice to most senior Associate Justice and finally to Chief Justice.

Other activities

Stone was the director of the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railroad Company, the president of the Association of American Law Schools, and a member of the American Bar Association.

He was awarded an honorary master of arts degree from Amherst College in 1900, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Amherst in 1913. Yale awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1924, with Columbia and Williams each awarding the same honorary degree in 1925.

Stone married Agnes E. Harvey in 1899. Their children were Lauson H. Stone and the mathematician Marshall H. Stone. Stone is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

See also


  • Frank, John P., The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions (Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel, editors) (Chelsea House Publishers: 1995) ISBN 0791013774, ISBN 978-0791013779
  • Mason, Alpheus Thomas, Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law. New York, Viking Press, 1956
  • Urofsky, Melvin I., Division and Discord: The Supreme Court under Stone and Vinson, 1941-1953. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. ISBN 1570031207

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