- Horace Harmon Lurton
name = Horace Harmon Lurton
office = Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
January 3 1910
July 12 1914
William Howard Taft
Rufus Wheeler Peckham
James Clark McReynolds
birthdate = birth date|1844|2|26|mf=y
birthplace = Newport,
deathdate = death date and age|1914|7|12|1844|2|26|mf=y
deathplace = Atlantic City,
Horace Harmon Lurton (
February 26, 1844– July 12, 1914) was an American juristwho served for four years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed at the age of 65, Lurton was the oldest justice appointed to the Court.
Lurton was born in
Newport, Kentucky, the son of a physician turned clergyman. He was a sergeant majorin the Confederate Armyduring the Civil War, serving in the 5th Tennessee Infantry, 2nd Kentucky Infantry, and 3rd Kentucky Cavalry. He was twice captured by Union forces, the second time sent as a prisoner of warto Johnson's IslandPrison Camp in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. He was later paroledby President Lincoln because of pleas for mercy from his mother.
Education and early practice
Before the war, he attended
Douglas University, and then earned an LL.B.in 1867 at Cumberland School of Lawwhich was then part of Cumberland University, but is now part of Samford University. At Cumberland he was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Lurton then practiced law in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Career as a judge
In 1875, Lurton left private practice after being chosen as a judge of the Tennessee
Chancery Courtfor the Sixth Chancery Division. After three years, Lurton then returned to his practice until 1886, when he was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. From this position, in 1893, Lurton was appointed by President Grover Clevelandto a federal appellate judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. While still on that court, Lurton first taught at, then served as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Lawfrom 1905 until 1909.
upreme Court service
In 1909, Lurton's friend, President
William Howard Taft, named him to a seat on the Supreme Court that had been vacated by the death of Justice Rufus Wheeler Peckham. This was the first of Taft's six Supreme Court appointments, and surprised some observers because unlike Taft, Lurton was a Democrat.
Lurton sided most frequently on the court with
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Lurton took his seat on the Court at the beginning of 1910. His tenure on the Court was brief, as he served only four years before dying in
Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1914.
*Lurton was a family friend of noted historian and jurist
Samuel Cole Williams.
* [http://www.fjc.gov/servlet/tGetInfo?jid=1441 Federal Judicial Center bio of Lurton]
*Irons, Peter. "A People's History of the Supreme Court", p. 260.
Penguin Books, 2000. Peter Ironswrote critically of Lurton's lack of impact on American Constitutional Law, even though Lurton only served on the High Court for four years before his death.
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