September 24, 1789 – The Judiciary Act of 1789 Signed Into Law

On this date, The Judiciary Act of 1789, officially titled “An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States,” was signed into law by President George Washington. Article III of the Constitution had established a Supreme Court, but left Congress the authority to create lower federal courts as needed. The Judiciary Act established the structure and jurisdiction of the federal court system and created the position of attorney general. Although amended throughout the years by Congress, the basic outline of the federal court system established by the First Congress remains largely intact today.

George Washington appointed the most Supreme Court justices, eleven in all. Franklin Roosevelt made the second highest number of appointments, nine. These included eight Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the elevation of one already sitting justice to Chief Justice. (That justice was Harlan Fiske Stone, originally appointed to the Court by President Calvin Coolidge.)

George Washington’s appointments

John Jay…………………1789-1795 (Chief Justice)
John Rutledge………….1789-1791
William Cushing………..1789-1810
James Wilson…………..1789-1798
John Blair……………….1789-1795
James Iredell……………1790-1799
Thomas Johnson……….1791-1793
William Paterson………..1793-1806
John Rutledge………….1795-1795 (Chief Justice)
Samuel Chase………….1796-1811
Oliver Ellsworth…………1796-1800 (Chief Justice)

Franklin Roosevelt’s appointments

Hugo Black………………………………….1937-1971
Stanley Foreman Reed……………………1938-1957
Felix Frankfurter……………………………1939-1962
William O. Douglas………………………..1939-1975
Frank Murphy……………………………….1940-1949
James Francis Byrnes……………………..1941-1942
Robert Houghtwood Jackson……………..1941-1954
Harlan Stone elevated to Chief Justice….1941- 1946
Wiley Rutledge……………………………..1943-1949

Senator Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut was the primary author of The Judiciary Act of 1789

Senator Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut was the primary author of The Judiciary Act of 1789

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