Lamar, Joseph R. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

An esteemed legal historian and jurist, Lamar believed that law must slowly adjust to changing times. The clear, logical style expressed in opinions he wrote while on the Supreme Court enhanced the ability of executive officials to provide the necessary details for implementing laws.

After studying law at Washington and Lee University, Lamar was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1878. He served two terms in the Georgia legislature (1886-1889) and on a commission that recodified the state’s civil law. Establishing himself as one of the leading members of the legal profession, he was appointed to the Georgia supreme court in 1904.Taft, William H.;nominations to the Court

Joseph R. Lamar

(Library of Congress)

Lamar was appointed to the Supreme Court by President William H. Taft in 1911. Lamar typically voted with the majority, writing only eight dissents. He wrote clearly and tersely but without creativity. Lamar’s best-known opinion was rendered in Gompers v. Buck’s Stove and Range Co.[case]Gompers v. Buck’s Stove and Range Co.[Gompers v. Buck’s Stove and Range Co.] (1911), which upheld the right of courts to punish violations of injunctions, but at the same time set aside Gompers’s conviction on procedural grounds. Lamar’s most far-reaching opinion came in the United States v. Midwest Oil Co.[case]Midwest Oil Co., United States v.[Midwest Oil Co., United States v.](1915), which upheld the president’s right to withhold public oil lands from private exploitation. In 1914 Lamar represented President Woodrow Wilson at a conference involving sensitive negotiations to settle some differences with Mexico.Lamar, Joseph R.

Civil law

Gompers v. Buck’s Stove and Range Co.

Progressivism

Taft, William H.

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