Sutherland, (Alexander) George

Sutherland, (Alexander) George
   Born in England, George Sutherland moved to the United States with his family in 1864 and settled in Utah. Sutherland was educated at Brigham Young Academy and graduated in 1881. In 1896, he was elected as a Republican senator in Utah’s first state legislature and became chair of the judiciary committee. In 1900, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and 1905 was appointed to the U.S. Senate, where he established a national reputation as a legal expert and leading opponent of Woodrow Wilson. He was defeated in the election of 1916.
   In 1922, Sutherland was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Warren Harding. He wrote the majority opinion in Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, ruling against minimum wage legislation for women, a decision that was overturned against his dissent in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish in 1937. While he voted with the other conservative justices—Willis Van Devanter, James McReynolds, and Pierce Butler—against most of the New Deal measures, Sutherland also wrote the majority decision in 1936 recognizing that the president had substantial powers in foreign policy matters deriving from needs of international relations. He also wrote the majority opinion overturning the conviction of the Scottsboro Boys in Powell v. Alabama in 1932 and concurred with the ruling that a tax on newspaper advertising was an unconstitutional restraint of the press. Although suffering ill-health, he refused to retire until after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt at “court packing” had been defeated. He finally retired in 1938.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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