Hugo Black


Biography of Hugo Black

Hugo Lafayette Black (February 27, 1886 – September 25, 1971) was an American politician and jurist. A member of the Democratic Party, Black represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1927 to 1937, and served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. Black was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 63 to 16. (6 Democratic Senators and 10 Republican Senators voted against him.) He was first of nine Roosevelt nominees to the Court, and outlasted all except for William O. Douglas. Black is widely regarded as one of the most influential Supreme Court justices in the 20th century.

The fifth longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history, Black is noted for his advocacy of a textualist reading of the United States Constitution and of the position that the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights were imposed on the states ("incorporated") by the Fourteenth Amendment. During his political career, Black was regarded as a staunch supporter of liberal policies and civil liberties. However, Black consistently opposed the doctrine of substantive due process (the anti-New Deal Supreme Court cited this concept in such a way as to make it impossible for the government to enact legislation that interfered with the freedom of business owners) and believed that there was no basis in the words of the Constitution for a right to privacy, voting against finding one in Griswold v. Connecticut. Black endorsed Roosevelt in both the 1932 and 1936 US Presidential elections and was a staunch supporter of the New Deal.

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