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Supreme Court Justices

John Rutledge (1739 - 1800)

John Rutledge was born in 1739 in South Carolina. He was was of 7 children of wealthy parents. In the late 1750s, Rutledge read law with his uncles in the colonies, and then studied law at the Inns of Court (Middle Temple) in London. After returning to South Carolina, Rutledge was a successful lawyer and politician, serving as a member of the First and Second Continental Congresses, and was the first governor of the state of South Carolina. Rutledge was among the first group of persons nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court. He remained a member for 2 years before resigning, accepting a position as chief justice of the court of common pleas in South Carolina. After John Jay was elected governor of New York in 1795, Rutledge asked for and received an appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. During his interim appointment, Rutledge presided during the Court's August 1795 session, and helped decide two cases. In December 1795, Rutledge's nomination was defeated in the Senate. Shortly thereafter, he attempted to commit suicide. He died in Charleston, the place of his birth, on June 21, 1800.