Today in Supreme Court history
Today is the birthday of Edward T. Sanford (1865), who was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding after strenuous lobbying efforts by Chief Justice William Howard Taft. The two Justices were sympatico, as Sanford joined with the Chief Justice regularly while they were on the Court and also participated in Taft’s “inner club” of conservative justices who met at Taft’s home on Sunday afternoons. Sanford was still on the Court when he died unexpectedly on the same day as the death of his mentor. His most noted opinion was in the so-called Pocket Veto case, in which he ended a 140-year-old dispute by ruling that the president has 10 calendar, rather than legislative, days to act on a bill before the adjournment of Congress.
July 23 is also the birthday of current Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (1936). Justice Kennedy has been an Associate Justice since 1988, when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He has acted as the Court’s swing vote in many cases, and he has, consequently, held special prominence in many politically charged 5–4 decisions.