Charles Evans Hughes

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Charles Evans Hughes : biography

April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948

Charles Evans Hughes, age 16 Governor Charles Evans Hughes National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.]]

Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York (1907–1910), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1910–1916), United States Secretary of State (1921–1925), a judge on the Court of International Justice (1928–1930), and the 11th Chief Justice of the United States (1930–1941). He was the Republican candidate in the 1916 U.S. Presidential election, losing narrowly to Woodrow Wilson.

Hughes was a professor in the 1890s, a staunch supporter of Britain’s New Liberalism, an important leader of the progressive movement of the 20th century, a leading diplomat and New York lawyer in the days of Harding and Coolidge, and was known for being a swing voter when dealing with cases related to the New Deal in the 1930s. Historian Clinton Rossiter has hailed him as a leading American conservative.Clinton Rossiter, Conservatism in America (1962) p. 174

Secretary of State

Hughes returned to government office in 1921 as Secretary of State under President Harding. On November 11, 1921, Armistice Day (changed to Veterans Day), the Washington Naval Conference for the limitation of naval armament among the Great Powers began. The major naval powers of Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the United States were in attendance as well as other nations with concerns about territories in the Pacific — Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and China.- Retrieved 2011-12-19

The American delegation was headed by Hughes and included Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Oscar Underwood, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate. The conference continued until February 1922 and included the Four-power pact (December 13, 1921), Shantung Treaty (February 4, 1922), Five-Power Treaty, the Nine-Power Treaty (February 6, 1922), the "Six-power pact" that was an agreement between the Big Five Nations plus China to divide the German cable routes in the Pacific, and the Yap Island agreement.; Originally printed 1921-12-13; Retrieved 2011-12-18

Hughes continued in office after Harding died and was succeeded by Coolidge, but resigned after Coolidge was elected to a full term. In 1922, June 30, he signed the Hughes–Peynado agreement, that ended the occupation of Dominican Republic by the United States (since 1916).

Supreme Court

On April 25, 1910, Hughes was appointed by President William H. Taft to a seat as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court vacated by David J. Brewer. Hughes was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 2, 1910, and received his commission the same day. As an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1910 to 1916, Hughes remained an advocate of regulation and authored decisions that weakened the legal foundations of laissez-faire capitalism. He also mastered a new set of issues regarding the commerce clause and, in a deliberately restrained manner, wrote constitutional decisions that expanded the regulatory powers of both the state and federal governments.

The respective authority of federal and state governments under the Constitution’s commerce clause had long been in dispute. In Cooley v. Board of Wardens (1852) the Court headed by Roger B. Taney had allowed the states, in the absence of federal legislation, to control those aspects of commerce that did not require a single national policy. However, more recent decisions, such as Weldon v. Missouri (1875), had curtailed the power of the states to tax or license out-of-state products or sales agents. Influenced perhaps by his experience as a state governor, Hughes authored a series of decisions that upheld state laws that affected—and, it might be argued, infringed on—congressional authority over interstate commerce. For example, invoking police power arguments, he upheld a Georgia statute requiring electric headlights on locomotives, including those engaged in interstate commerce.