Justice Horace Harmon Lurton

Justice Horace Harmon Lurton joined the U.S. Supreme Court on January 3, 1910, replacing Justice Rufus Wheeler Peckham. Lurton was born on February 26, 1844 in Newport, Kentucky. He attended the Old University of Chicago, but he returned to the South to serve in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After the war ended, Lurton received a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law (now part of Samford University) in 1867.

Lurton entered private practice in Tennessee but eventually took a position as the Chancellor of the Tennessee Chancery Court in the Sixth Judicial District in 1875. He served in this role for three years before returning to private practice. Lurton then became a Justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1886. Seven years later, President Grover Cleveland nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Lurton spent 16 years on this federal court. Toward the end of his tenure there, he also spent a few years as the dean of the law department at Vanderbilt University.

On December 13, 1909, President William Howard Taft nominated Lurton to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Taft previously had served with Lurton on the Sixth Circuit.) The Senate confirmed him on December 20, and he took the judicial oath shortly after New Year’s.

Lurton spent just four and a half years on the Court, writing 87 opinions. He did not have a significant influence on the development of the law. Lurton died on July 12, 1914 in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the summer recess of the Court. He was returned to Tennessee for burial. Justice James Clark McReynolds replaced him on the Court.