As U.S. attorney general, Hoar advised President Ulysses S. Grant regarding his nominations to the Supreme Court. His excessive influence on the president caused the Senate to reject Hoar’s own nomination to the Court.
Hoar pursued classical studies at Harvard University and graduated in 1835. For a period of time, he was a senator in the Massachusetts legislature. From 1849 to 1855 he served as judge of the court of common pleas. In 1859 and until 1869 he served as a judge of the Massachusetts state supreme court. He was appointed U.S. attorney general by President Ulysses S. Grant in March of 1869. Shortly after the Civil War, Congress, as a result of a contentious relationship with President Andrew Johnson, passed legislation that removed the power of the president to appoint any new Supreme Court justices. The new legislation also reduced the number of justices from ten to eight. During the Grant administration, another judiciary act increased the number of justices to nine.
During his brief tenure as attorney general, Hoar was accused, along with President Grant, of packing the Court. The judiciary act stipulated that President Grant was to nominate the ninth justice to the Court and to appoint a new judge in each federal circuit. At the same time, Justice Robert C. Grier retired due to health problems. Therefore President Grant submitted two Supreme Court nominations to the Senate. Hoar, being the president’s principle adviser in the matter, supplied Grant with a list of nominees. Many members of the Senate were outraged because Hoar disregarded their own list of nominees. In late 1869 Grant nominated Hoar to fill a vacancy on the Court. The Senate was quick to reject his nomination, and Hoar resigned his office six months later to return to private life.
Hoar, George F. The Charge of Packing the Court Against President Grant and Attorney General Hoar Refuted. Worcester, Mass.: Press of Charles Hamilton, 1896. Storey, Moorfield, and Edward W. Emerson. Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar: A Memoir. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1911.
Grier, Robert C.
Judiciary Acts of 1801-1925
McCulloch v. Maryland
Nominations to the Court