Black, Jeremiah S.

Although Black was a respected judge, his nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected, possibly because of political reasons. He also served as Court reporter and argued cases before the Court.

Black was admitted to the bar in 1830 and appointed president judge of the court of common pleas of Pennsylvania in 1842. He was elected to that state’s supreme court in 1851 and chosen chief justice. In 1857 he was appointed attorney general by President James Buchanan. As attorney general, Black prosecuted cases involving California land titles that led to the reversal of district court decisions by the Supreme Court, enforced slave trade and fugitive slave laws, and in an official opinion, advised Buchanan on the powers of the president in suppressing rebellion. He became secretary of state on December 17, 1860, three days before South Carolina seceded.Buchanan, James;nominations to the Court

Jeremiah S. Black

(Library of Congress)

Buchanan nominated Black, a Democrat, to the Court on February 5, 1861, less than a month before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. Although Black was known as an able and competent jurist, having twice been elected to Pennsylvania’s supreme court, the nomination failed by one vote, twenty-five to twenty-six, on February 21, 1861.

Black was appointed reporterReporters, Supreme Court to the Supreme Court in December, 1861, and prepared two volumes of reports during his three years of service. Later, as an able member of the Supreme Court bar, he participated in the landmark decisions of Ex parte Milligan (1866) and Ex parte McCardle (1869), opposing the government’s violations of civil rights and the Reconstruction Acts.

Civil War

Fugitive slaves

McCardle, Ex parte

Milligan, Ex parte

Nominations to the Court

Reporters, Supreme Court