Americans remember presidents better than they remember chief justices, but Taft was a better judge than executive, and his judicial leadership arguably left a more lasting mark on the nation.
He finished third in the presidential election, behind winner Woodrow Wilson and Roosevelt, winning less than 25 percent of the popular vote and only eight electoral votes. Taft served nine years as chief justice after his four years as president—the only person to hold both jobs. But in the most important and lasting opinion he wrote as chief justice, in Myers vs.
Video Ingenuity Awards. Like this article? And legal challenges to his presidential legacy were rare: Earth Optimism Summit.
Video Contest. Before he was Secretary of War or governor of the Philippines, Taft, an intellectual son and grandson of judges, spent eight blissful years as a federal appeals court judge.
As chief justice, Taft rejoiced in his reversal of fortune. He would be frustrated to see how many dissenting opinions from his era, especially by liberal justices Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, are celebrated in history.How to Make a Music Video
Corrigan that gave judges broad latitude to issue injunctions to stop labor disputes. Address 2.
Taft was a reluctant president, accepting the 1908 Republican nomination only after his wife, Nellie, and sitting President Theodore Roosevelt persuaded him to run as his chosen successor. There were exceptions: Roosevelt felt certain that Taft, his friend and confidant, would continue his progressive reforms. As chief justice, Taft expanded federal power more than he did during his cautious term in the White House.
Enraged, Roosevelt ran against Taft as a third-party candidate in 1912. Still, Taft left a more enduring judicial legacy: By one estimate, Taft prevented about 200 dissenting votes through various forms of persuasion, both carrots and sticks.
Soon he was down to 260 pounds, a near-low for him. Ask Smithsonian.
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Taft the president had embraced a narrow view of his own powers, hesitating to act if the law or Constitution didn't give him explicit permission. Give a Gift. Magazine Current Issue.