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A biography and life work of john marshall harlan second

Public service was a hallmark of his family. His great-grandfather James Harlan was attorney general of Kentucky and a United States congressman from that state in the 1830s.

John Marshall Harlan

His grandfather, for whom he was named, served from 1877 to 1911 as a Justice of the Supreme Court. Harlan 1883, was attorney general of Puerto Rico. His father, John Maynard Harlan 1884, practiced law and served as a city alderman in Chicago.

  1. The Bristow Papers at the Library of Congress are important. Supreme Court supporting legal equality for African Americans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  2. An even more persistent theme in his dissents was federalism. Harlan who won the case contended that every man, whatever his politics, deserved as good a lawyer as he could pay for.
  3. During the ten year period beginning with the Court's 1958 term, he authored more opinions per term than any other Justice. His best known dissents favoured the rights of blacks as guaranteed, in his view, by the post-Civil War constitutional amendments Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth.

John Harlan '20 was outstanding in the student life of his generation, serving as chairman of The Daily Princetonian, chairman of the Senior Council, and president of his class in junior and senior years. After graduating with honors in 1920, he spent three years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, taking an A.


On his return from England, he began work with one of the nation's leading law firms while studying at the New York Law School. He earned his LL. In the late 1920s, as special assistant attorney general of New York state, he investigated the Queens County sewer scandals and helped convict a former Queens borough president of conspiracy.

In the early 1950s, as chief counsel for the newly created New York State Crime Commission, Harlan helped investigate waterfront rackets in New York City and illegal gambling activities in several other communities.

Later, he was one of four attorneys who successfully defended several members of the duPont family in a federal antitrust suit. In reviewing his career, newspapers spoke of him as the court's conservative conscience. He was a strong believer in states' rights and an ardent defender of the rights of the individual.

In 1971 he wrote the majority opinion that found that wearing, in a courthouse corridor, a jacket bearing an obscene protest against the draft was constitutionally protected free speech. Harlan was admired by his associates for his integrity, his modesty, his gentle humor and, in his last years when he wrote some of his most notable opinionsfor the courage with which he met the challenge of seriously failing eyesight.

John Marshall Harlan Facts

Among the many tributes paid him after his death, at the age of seventy-two, was one by one of his first law clerks, Harvard Law School Professor Paul M. Bator Princeton class of 1951who said in part: Nothing is less common than one who is equally scrupulous about his own. Justice Harlan was one of these rare public men.

  • Harlan's most famous dissent was in Plessy v;
  • Only 168 times did he speak for the majority.

For him fidelity to law was fidelity to the whole law, every day and not every other day, fidelity not only to those rules which define other people's power but also those which limited his own. Maybe his most enduring legacy will be this, that when the dark night of cynicism and hopelessness is on us, we can say, yes, fidelity to law is possible, is worthwhile, is real.