Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Story of Justice McReynolds' Anti-Semitic Photo Refusal Is Debunked

National Law Journal reported yesterday that research by a staffer in the U.S. Supreme Court curator's office has proven false an often-repeated story that no 1924 photograph of Supreme Court justices was taken because the anti-Semitic Justice James McReynolds' would not sit next to Justice Louis Brandeis for the photo.  It turns out that group photos are taken only when a new justice comes onto the court, which was not the case in 1924.  It was the case however that one photo studio that was passed over for the 1923 photo lobbied Chief Justice Taft for an extra photo in 1924, and McReynolds (known for his disagreeable temperament) balked at the idea.  McReynolds does appear in nine other group photos between 1914 and 1941 with Jewish justices, though never next to them because the tradition of seating-by-seniority did not place him there.