Shiras is remembered as an impartial Supreme Court judge and an independent thinker. Generally, he defended civil liberties, upheld the right of states to regulate business, and voted against the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
Shiras studied law at Yale and in a Pittsburgh law office and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1855. Representing local railroad, banking, oil, coal, and iron interests, he earned a reputation as an extremely capable corporation lawyer. In 1881 he turned down an offer from the state legislature to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate.
George Shiras, Jr.
Although lacking experience in public service, Shiras was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892. As a justice, Shiras typically voted to uphold government regulation against challenges from the states but supported challenges to new extensions of national power. In many cases, Shiras voted to restrict the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890). He is best remembered for his apparent change of opinion in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co.
Hughes, Charles Evans
Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co.
Sherman Antitrust Act