William Howard Taft
President of the United States
Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
On June 30, 1921, U.S. President Warren G. Harding’s nomination to the U.S. Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, former President William Howard Taft, was approved. Taft is the only person to have served in both of those high offices.
William Howard Taft is the first cousin of the husband of my seventh cousin, once removed, Eleanor Kellogg Chase. The ancestors in common with Eleanor and me are Joseph Kellogg and Joanne Foote, both born in the 1620’s in England, and who immigrated to Massachusetts. They are her sixth great grandparents and my seventh great grandparents.
Eleanor Kellogg Chase’s family has connections to the J.P. Morgan - Chase Manhattan Bank of New York, as well as the Kellogg part related to Will Keith Kellogg, the founder of the company known today as Kellogg’s Special K (the dry cereal products), and Nobel Peace Prize winner Frank Billings Kellogg.
There have been 17 Supreme Court Chief Justices (they serve life time tenures) over the history of the United States. The President nominates a judge to the U.S. Senate, which debates such nomination, then votes on whether to approve the nomination. There have been eight of the 17 Chief Justice votes that were by acclamation (no votes against). Taft is included among those honored eight.
Though our family has relationships attributed to 20 of the 45 U.S. Presidents who have served, Taft is the only one of our family who has served as a Chief Justice of the United States. The Chief Justice not only heads up the Judicial Branch of our National Government, that Justice is the presiding Judge over the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is unique in that it hears only cases that are appealed to it from a lower Federal Court ruling. A case may have gone before several State and Federal Courts, but the losing litigant in the most recent trail may appeal to a higher court. The Supreme Court considers only the appealed cases it chooses to adjudicate. Only about one percent of all cases appealed to the Supreme Court are chosen to be considered. The remaining 99 percent remain with whatever decision was adjudicated in the most recent hearing.
A case selected for argument usually involves interpretations of the U. S. Constitution or federal law. At least four Justices have selected the case as being of such importance that the Supreme Court must resolve the legal issues.
An attorney for each side of a case will have an opportunity to make a presentation to the Court and answer questions posed by the Justices. Prior to the argument each side has submitted a legal brief—a written legal argument outlining each party’s points of law. The Justices have read these briefs prior to argument and are thoroughly familiar with the case, its facts, and the legal positions that each party is advocating.
The Justices announce their several decisions at specified times. The nine justices vote and the vote count is public information. In recent years, it seems that many decisions were influenced by the justices’ views about interpreting the original U.S. Constitution. The short-hand description is liberal versus conservative views.
Compiled on June 30, 2017 by
Dwight Albert (D.A.) Sharpe
805 Derting Road East
Aurora, TX 76078-3712