Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Justices To Weigh In On Politics

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tags: election 2016, Ruth Bader Ginsburg



On a fall day in 1955, Thurgood Marshall needed a signature to save a man’s life.

Marshall’s client, as recounted in Gilbert King’s Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, was an African-American man convicted of raping a white woman under dubious circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court had just rejected Marshall’s request for a last-minute stay of execution, and Marshall needed the Chief Justice of the United States, Fred Vinson, to stop the execution before it was too late.

Marshall found the chief in a hotel, two blocks from the White House, playing poker with President Harry Truman. Truman sat silently as his good friend Vinson read Marshall’s brief and eventually decided to side with Marshall’s client.

It was a common scene in the Truman administration. Often, Vinson and Justice Tom Clark joined Truman on the presidential yacht for a weekend of cards. And when Truman and Vinson weren’t betting on poker games, they just as often discussed matters of state. As Vinson biographers James St. Clair and Linda Gugin recount, the chief justice “was one of Truman’s closest confidants.” Vinson even joined political meetings about who Truman should select as his running mate in the 1948 election.




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