Justice John Hessin Clarke

Justice John Hessin Clarke joined the U.S. Supreme Court on October 9, 1916, replacing Justice Charles Evans Hughes. Clarke was born on September 18, 1857 in eastern Ohio. He graduated from Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University) in 1877. A year later, Clarke passed the Ohio bar examination cum laude and entered private practice. He combined his legal work with political activities. Clarke ran for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat but lost decisively.

In the summer of 1914, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Clarke to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, a federal trial court. He would stay there for barely two years. Wilson nominated Clarke to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 14, 1916 after Justice Hughes resigned to run for President. The Senate confirmed him on July 24, and he took the judicial oath in the fall.

Clarke did not enjoy serving on the Court and spent just six years there. He wrote two notable dissents in cases involving the powers of Congress, which he viewed more broadly than the majority of the Court. Clarke also urged a robust application of the Sherman Antitrust Act and supported restrictions on free speech during wartime. He took a relatively narrow view of search warrants under the Fourth Amendment, writing for the Court in finding that they could not be used merely to collect evidence. (The Court abandoned this notion by the 1960s.)

Clarke retired on September 18, 1922 and was replaced by Justice George Sutherland. After leaving the Court, he unsuccessfully urged the U.S. to join the League of Nations. In 1937, he endorsed the plan to expand the Supreme Court that was proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt. Clarke died on March 22, 1945 in San Diego, California and was buried in Ohio.

Selected Opinions by Justice Clarke:

Gouled v. U.S. (1921)

Topic: Search & Seizure

Search warrants may not be used as a means of gaining access to a person's house or office and papers solely for the purpose of making search to secure evidence to be used against them in a criminal or penal proceeding.