Trimble, Robert Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Known for his sound sense and legal knowledge, Trimble wrote sixteen majority opinions in only two years on the Supreme Court. His most important opinion upheld the right of states to make their own bankruptcy laws.

What formal education Trimble obtained was from Bourbon Academy and Kentucky Academy, and he began practicing law in Paris, Kentucky, about 1800, specializing in land litigation. He was not admitted to the bar until 1803. The governor of Kentucky appointed him a justice on the state court of appeals in 1807, but Trimble returned to his more profitable law practice in 1809. In 1817 President James Madison appointed Trimble as a justice of the federal district court.Bankruptcy lawAdams, John Quincy;nominations to the CourtBankruptcy law

Robert Trimble

(Albert Rosenthal/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

In 1826 President John Quincy Adams nominated Trimble as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and he was easily confirmed. In his first opinion, Montgomery v. Hernandez[case]Montgomery v. Hernandez[Montgomery v. Hernandez] (1827), Trimble delineated procedures that the Court still follows. While serving on the Court, Trimble typically supported Chief Justice John Marshall, upholding the dominance of federal over state laws whenever the two conflicted. However, he broke with Marshall and wrote one of his best opinions in concurring with the majority in Ogden v. Saunders[case]Ogden v. Saunders[Ogden v. Saunders] (1827), maintaining that states held jurisdiction over bankruptcy legislation. After only two years on the bench, Trimble died, ending a promising career.

Adams, John Quincy

Marshall, John

Ogden v. Saunders

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