Wiley Blount Rutledge

Wiley Blount Rutledge

Wiley Blount Rutledge
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
In office
February 11, 1943[1] – September 10, 1949
Nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by James F. Byrnes
Succeeded by Sherman Minton
Personal details
Born Wiley Blount Rutledge, Jr.
(1894-07-20)July 20, 1894
Cloverport, Kentucky
Died September 10, 1949(1949-09-10) (aged 55)
York, Maine
Spouse(s) Annabel Person
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Colorado Law School
Religion Unitarian[2]

Wiley Blount Rutledge, Jr. (July 20, 1894 – September 10, 1949) was an American educator, lawyer, and justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1943–1949).


  • Early life and education 1
  • Marriage and family 2
  • Career 3
  • Judicial career 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Rutledge was born in Cloverport, Kentucky (more specifically, at nearby Tar Springs) to Wiley Blount Rutledge, Sr. (d. 1944), a Southern Baptist minister,[3] and Mary Lou Wigginton Rutledge (d. 1903). After a brother died in infancy, Wiley's sister Margaret was born in 1897. His family moved about while he was young.

He attended Maryville College and then the University of Wisconsin–Madison, graduating from there in 1914. Rutledge taught high school in Indiana while attending the present-day Indiana University Maurer School of Law part-time. He later moved to Colorado, and received a degree from the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. While matriculating at Colorado, Rutledge joined the Pi Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity.

Marriage and family

The year he graduated from law school, on August 28, 1917, Rutledge married Annabel Person. The couple had three children: Mary Lou (1922), Jean Ann (1925), and Neal (1927).


Rutledge worked in private practice in Boulder for a few years before deciding to pursue an academic career. He taught law at the pack the Supreme Court. Rutledge also served as Dean of Washington University School of Law from 1930–1935, where the Wiley Rutledge Moot Court competition is named in his honor.[5]

Judicial career

Roosevelt appointed Rutledge to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1939.[4] When Supreme Court justice James F. Byrnes resigned in the fall of 1942 to help supervise wartime mobilization, Roosevelt nominated Rutledge to his position.[6] Rutledge was significantly less conservative than Byrnes and he remained a steady ally of Roosevelt throughout his court career.[6]

Rutledge articulated strong liberal positions, particularly in his interpretation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He wrote for the court in 1946 in Kotteakos v. United States that "our Government is not one of mere convenience or efficiency. It too has a stake, with every citizen, in his being afforded our historic individual protections, including those surrounding criminal trials. About them we dare not become careless or complacent when that fashion has become rampant over the earth."[7]

Rutledge extended this position to dissent from the Court's decision in Yamashita v. Styer, in which Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita filed for habeas corpus to appeal his conviction for war crimes in World War II. He wrote:[8]

According to Justice Frankfurter, Rutledge was part of the more liberal "axis" of justices on the Court, along with Justices Murphy, Douglas, and Black; the group would for years oppose Frankfurter's ideology of judicial restraint.[9] Douglas, Murphy, and then Rutledge were the first justices to agree with Black's notion that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights protection into it; this view would later become law.[10]

Rutledge served on the court until his death. On August 27, 1949, Rutledge was vacationing in Maine. He had a stroke while driving his car and died two weeks later,[11] aged fifty-five. His remains are interred at Green Mountain Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.[12]

One of Rutledge's law clerks, John Paul Stevens, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Federal Judicial Center: Hugo Black". December 12, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  2. ^ http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html
  3. ^ "Justice Rutledge's Father Dies". The New York Times. 7 July 1944. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Rutledge Named To Appeals Court". The New York Times. 22 March 1939. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "WULS: Trial and Advocacy Program; Moot Court Competitions; Wiley Rutledge Moot Court". Law.wustl.edu. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Leuchtenburg, William E. (1995). The Supreme Court Reborn. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 220.  
  7. ^ Kotteakos v. United States - 328 U.S. 750 (1946)
  8. ^ Yamashita v. Styer decision.
  9. ^ Ball, Howard. Hugo L. Black: Cold Steel Warrior. Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-19-507814-4. Page 14.
  10. ^ Ball, Howard. Hugo L. Black: Cold Steel Warrior. Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-19-507814-4. pp. 212–213.
  11. ^ "Justice's death blamed on overwork", News
  12. ^ Hall, Kermit L., ed. (1992). The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 877.  
  13. ^ Jeffrey Toobin, "After Stevens", The New Yorker, March 22, 2010.
  • Data drawn in part from the Supreme Court Historical Society and Oyez.
  • Justice Rutledge's papers are archived at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress and available to researchers.

Further reading

  • Abraham, Henry J. (1992). Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court (3rd ed.). New York:  
  • Cushman, Clare (2001). The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–1995 (2nd ed.). (  
  • Ferren, John M. (2004). Salt of the Earth, Conscience of the Court: The Story of Justice Wiley Rutledge. Chapel Hill:  
  • Frank, John P. (1995). Friedman, Leon; Israel, Fred L., eds. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions.  
  • Martin, Fenton S.; Goehlert, Robert U. (1990). The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Books.  
  • Urofsky, Melvin I. (1994). The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary. New York:  

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
New seat
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Succeeded by
Bennett Champ Clark
Preceded by
James F. Byrnes
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
February 11, 1943 – September 10, 1949
Succeeded by
Sherman Minton