Justice Stanley Reed

Justice Stanley Reed joined the U.S. Supreme Court on January 31, 1938, replacing Justice George Sutherland. Reed was born on December 31, 1884 in northeastern Kentucky. He graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1902, and he received another undergraduate degree from Yale University four years later. Reed studied law at the University of Virginia and Columbia University, but he did not receive a law degree from either institution. In 1910, he was admitted to the Kentucky bar and entered private practice.

Shortly afterward, Reed served two terms in the Kentucky state legislature. He also served in the U.S. Army during the First World War. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed Reed to the Federal Farm Board. He later served as general counsel to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and he continued in that role after President Franklin Roosevelt succeeded Hoover. His success in defending the federal government’s gold policy before the Supreme Court led to his appointment as U.S. Solicitor General in early 1935. Reed argued several notable cases involving the New Deal before the Supreme Court.

On January 15, 1938, Roosevelt nominated Reed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed him on January 25, and he took the judicial oath about a week later. He would spend nearly two decades on the Court.

One of Reed’s most significant opinions came in the 1944 case of Smith v. Allwright, which involved voting rights and racial discrimination. Writing for the Court, Reed found that a state could not set up an election process that allowed a political party to exclude African-American voters during its primaries. However, the most memorable line that he wrote probably came in a dissent in Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, which involved the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Criticizing the metaphor of a "wall of separation between church and state," Reed wrote that a "rule of law should not be drawn from a figure of speech." More generally, he opposed the complete incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the Fourteenth Amendment to apply against the states.

Reed retired from the Supreme Court on February 25, 1957 and was replaced by Justice Charles Evans Whittaker. In November of that year, President Dwight Eisenhower named Reed as the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, but he resigned in the following month. Reed died on April 2, 1980 on Long Island in New York. He is buried in Kentucky.

Selected Opinions by Justice Reed:

U.S. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. (1956)

Topic: Antitrust

The ultimate consideration in determining whether an alleged monopolist violates Section 2 of the Sherman Act is whether it controls prices and competition in the market for such part of trade or commerce as it is charged with monopolizing.

U.S. v. Storer Broadcasting Co. (1956)

Topic: Government Agencies

A hearing requirement should not be read as withdrawing from the power of an agency the rulemaking authority necessary for the orderly conduct of its business.

Mazer v. Stein (1954)

Topic: Copyrights

Artistic articles are protected in form, but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects.

Smith v. Allwright (1944)

Topic: Voting & Elections

All citizens have a right to participate in the choice of elected officials, without restriction by any state because of race. This grant to the people of the opportunity for choice is not to be nullified by a state through casting its electoral process in a form that permits a private organization to practice racial discrimination in the election.

Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Manufacturing Co., Inc. (1941)

Topic: Lawsuits & Legal Procedures

Federal courts deciding questions of conflict of laws in diversity of citizenship cases must follow the rules prevailing in the states in which they sit.