Grier, Robert C. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A Supreme Court justice noted for his forthright and scholarly opinions, Grier typically upheld the power of the states. In 1863 his opinion extended the president’s powers by providing legal authority for the chief executive’s use of emergency power before congressional authorization.

Grier graduated from Dickinson College in 1812 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1817. He enjoyed notable success in law and was appointed president judge of the district court of Allegheny County in 1833. In 1846 he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President James K. Polk to fill the vacancy left by the death of Henry Baldwin.States’ rightsPresidential powersPolk, James K.;nominations to the CourtStates’ rightsPresidential powers

Robert C. Grier

(Handy Studios/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Although a Democrat, Grier was an avid supporter of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. He concurred in Scott v. Sandford[case]Scott v. Sandford[Scott v. Sandford] (1857), and in his most important opinion, he spoke for the Court in the 1863 Prize Cases,[case]Prize Cases[Prize Cases] validating President Lincoln’s proclamation of a blockade of Confederate ports and the subsequent seizure of neutral shipping. Grier did not consider armed opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act to be treason because it did not amount to levying war. He concurred with the Court’s decision in Cummings v. Missouri[case]Cummings v. Missouri[Cummings v. Missouri] (1867), which denied the legal requirement that certain job applicants had to swear an oath that they had not opposed the Union during the Civil War.Grier, Robert C.

Cummings v. Missouri

Presidential powers

Prize Cases

Scott v. Sandford

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