Black, Hugo L.


5th longest-serving Associate Justice, one of the 20th century’s great Justices


Type: Signature
Description: (1886-1971) Progressive Alabama Senator, strong advocate for FDR’s New Deal policies. As Associate Justice 1937-71, Black believed the Court should literally enforce constitutional guarantees, especially the First Amendment free speech clause. Often labeled an “activist” because of his willingness to review legislation that arguably violated constitutional provisions, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential 20th century justices.

Beginning in the late 1940s, Black wrote decisions relating to the Establishment Clause, where he insisted on strict separation of church and state. The most notable of these was Engel v. Vitale (1962), which declared state-sanctioned prayer in public schools unconstitutional. He dissented in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), believing there was no right of privacy in the Constitution. He authored the the landmark opinion in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), which ruled that states must provide a lawyer to a criminal defendant who cannot afford one. He also wrote the majority opinion in Korematsu v. US which allowed internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast during WW II. He was one of the Court’s foremost defenders of the “one man, one vote” principle. He wrote the opinion of the Court in Wesberry v. Sanders (1964), holding that congressional districts in any state must be approximately equal in population.

He was Senior Associate Justice for most of his 34 years on the Court, 5th longest-serving Justice ever. In 1986, he appeared on a US Great Americans series stamp issued by the US Postal Service.

2 1/4 x 5 signed card

Condition: Good, slight water spot on “o”, mount remnants verso

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