Sherman Minton (1890-1965)
Minton was born in Indiana on October 20, 1890. Minton graduated from
the school of law at Indiana University, and then undertook graduate law
work at Yale Law School. After practicing law in private practice,
Minton was appointed a public counselor in Indiana in 1933. A year
later, the Democrat won election to the Senate as an ardent New Dealer.
He served one term in the Senate. After losing his re-election bid in
1940, FDR named Minton as an advisor on military branch coordination.
Later in 1941, Minton was appointed to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In 1949, Minton was nominated to the
Supreme Court by President Harry S Truman, a former colleague of
Minton's in the Senate. Minton strongly believed in a limited exercise
of judicial power when evaluating the constitutionality of governmental
action. This was likely a consequence of Minton's view that the Court,
before its "switch" in 1937, had too broadly conceived its role. Senator
Minton was a supporter of FDR's court-packing plan of 1937. Minton
joined the plurality's decision in Dennis v. United States (1951), which
upheld convictions of several Communists charged with violation of the
Smith Act (which prohibited anyone from willfully advocating or teaching
the duty to overthrow any government of the US). He also joined a
majority of the Court in upholding other domestic security laws during
the Second Red Scare of the early 1950s. Minton was a member of the
Court that decided
Board of Education, and was apparently in favor of declaring
unconstitutional "separate but equal" in the field of education in late
1952, when the Court remained quite divided on the issue in Brown. Minton's reluctance to invalidate governmental
actions is exemplified by his dissent in the Steel Seizure case, which held Harry Truman's seizure
of the steel mills to avert a strike violated separation of powers.
Due to illness, he retired from the Court on October 15, 1956. He died on April 9, 1965.