Badger, George E. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A prominent lawyer and jurist, Badger was nominated by U.S. president Millard Fillmore to replace Supreme Court Justice John McKinley, who had died. In spite of his impeccable qualifications, political considerations prevented his confirmation.

Badger achieved prominence as one of the foremost legal minds of the mid-nineteenth century, rivaled only by Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. After serving as a judge on the North Carolina superior court, he argued more than seven hundred cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. As a member of the U.S. Senate, he was regarded as an unsurpassed authority on constitutional law.Fillmore, Millard;nominations to the Court

In 1853, after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McKinley, President Millard FillmoreFillmore, Millard sought to install Badger, a Whig, on the Court. Fillmore’s lame duck status, however, offered little political weight to the nominee, who faced opposition from a Democratic-controlled Senate. Southern Democrats were especially wary of Badger’s nationalism. Custom required at that time that Court justices also preside over designated federal circuit courts; the less politically charged excuse was made that Badger was not a resident of the circuit for which he would be responsible. Badger’s nomination was not confirmed by his fellow senators. Like Learned Hand a century later, the candidate widely considered most qualified to serve on the Court was blocked by partisan concerns.

Hand, Learned

McKinley, John

Nominations to the Court

Story, Joseph

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