A judicial conservative who believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to interpret rather than make law, Byrnes served on the Court for slightly more than a year although his career in politics and public service lasted more than forty years.
Byrnes’s first job in a career in politics and public service that spanned more than forty years was as a messenger boy in a law office. In 1900 he became the official court reporter in Aiken County, South Carolina. In 1903 he was admitted to the bar; the same year, he became editor and publisher of the Aiken Journal and Review. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1910 by a fifty-seven-vote margin. He served in this position until 1924, when he ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated. After practicing law for six years, he again ran for the Senate and was elected. He served there for nearly eleven years until President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him for an associate justice seat on the Supreme Court. On June 12, 1941, the Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination.
James F. Byrnes
During his tenure on the Court, Byrnes followed a philosophy of judicial conservatism.
Byrnes served on the Court for slightly more than a year. In October, 1942, he resigned to head the wartime Office of Economic Stabilization. In May, 1943, he became director of war mobilization. President Roosevelt
As governor of South Carolina, Byrnes concentrated on equalizing school funding for black and white schools in order to meet the Court’s doctrine of separate but equal. When the Court declared the policy unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Byrnes criticized the court for reversing the long-standing doctrine.
Bader, William H., and Roy M. Mersky, eds. The First One Hundred Eight Justices. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 2004. Brown, Walter J. James F. Byrnes of South Carolina: A Remembrance. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1990. Byrnes, James F. All in One Lifetime. New York: Harper, 1958. Parrish, Michael E. The Hughes Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2002. Renstrom., Peter G. The Stone Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2001. Robertson, David. Sly and Able: A Political Bibliography of James F. Byrnes. New York: W. W. Norton, 1994.
Edwards v. California
Roosevelt, Franklin D.