Supreme Court and the Law

Listings shown are sorted alphabetically.

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Newly appointed to the Supreme Court

Hugo Black - LS 10/30/37 on Court stationery, thanking Tom Terral for a congratulatory letter on being confirmed as a Justice, signed with a large signature "Hugo L. Black".

$175.00
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The Chief Justice is not a fan of the press

Warren Burger – Chief Justice, ALS “Warren”, 2 pages, Supreme Court, no date. The Chief Justice blasts press attacks on an old friend. In part: "Don't let the muckrackers get you down. I decline to…They under-rate the common sense of Americans. People like to be titillated but they don't always believe what they read." Handwritten letters from modern justices are uncommon. Any with content or political commentary are very desirable and difficult to find. [# 3589]

$450.00
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letter and card for a collector

Harold Burton – signed letter and Supreme Court card March 7 and 8, 1947 responding to an autograph request. Burton was a willing signer for autograph collectors. His cover letters, like this and earlier examples as a U. S. Senator, explained his attitude about autograph collecting: “Anything that brings the people of America into closer personal contact with their governmental representatives contributes to the success of our republic which deserves not only its ‘just powers’ but its spirit from the governed.” It is interesting that the card and letter were dated on successive days suggesting his typical pattern was to answer a request by signing a card and then his secretary would produce the cover letter. [#5253]

$150.00
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Pierce Butler-Supreme Court Justice, LS as a Justice but on personal stationary 3/17/28 to the Commander of the American Legion. [#4250]

$100.00
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One Justice reflecting on another

James Byrnes -signed letter on personal stationary, undated to Justice Murphy's former secretary Eleanor Bumgardner. The five paragraph letter reads more like an affidavit than a letter and was most likely in response to a request from Bumgardner for personal recollections and testimonials for Murphy. Byrnes describes his first encounter with Murphy, both serving on the 1936 Democratic Party Platform Committee, being invited to the White House for Murphy's swearing in ceremony as Justice and then briefly of their service together on the Supreme Court. "...in the close association that necessarily exists among the Justices of the Supreme Court, I learned of his great industry. I respected not only his knowledge of the law, but his common sense and his desire to do justice."

The letter shows some toning but Byrnes signature is dark and bold. Letters from Justices discussing other public figures, especially fellow Justices are very desirable and uncommon. This is a particularly nice one as it traces the association of two of FDR's Court appointments back to the New Deal politics of the Democratic Party.

Frank Murphy was an active politician and close advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt before taking a seat on the Supreme Court. His political base was in Michigan where he served one term as a reform Governor. FDR brought him back to Washington as Attorney General and in 1940 appointed him to the Court where he served until his death in 1949.

Byrnes was also close to Franklin Roosevelt. He served as a member of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senator from South Carolina. Appointed to the Court by FDR in 1941, to fill Harlan Stone’s seat as Associate Justice, Byrnes would only serve until the following year. He resigned from the Court to become Roosevelt’s advisor as Director of Economic Stabilization and later as the Director of the War Mobilization Board. He later served as Secretary of State under Harry Truman and then returned home where he was elected Governor. [# 3381]

$250.00
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A blank card, approximately 4.5 x 2.5, boldly signed and in excellent condition. [#4692]

Cardozo was one of the 20th Century’s most influential interpreters and shapers of Constitutional law. His fame came while on the New York Court of Appeals which paved the way for his nomination by President Hoover to the Supreme Court in 1932. While often in the minority his legal philosophy has often been used in decisions and opinions well after his death. He died in 1938 after a brief five year tenure on the Supreme Court. Cardozo succeeded Oliver Wendell Holmes and was himself followed by Felix Frankfurter making for an impressive string of three Supreme Court giants holding the same seat.

$200.00
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Supreme Court Justice. ALS 8/23/30 on stationery of the "Bar Building" agreeing to meet Henry Hurwitz. Single page signed "Benjamin N. Cardozo". [#4691]

$400.00
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Tom Clark-Supreme Court Justice 8 x 10 photo inscribed and dated 4/11/73, after leaving the Court. [#4015]

$100.00
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Early Supreme Court Justice

Duvall, Gabriel –Supreme Court Justice, LS with franking signature, one page, Washington, July 11, 1803. Duval, writing as the nation’s first Comptroller of the Treasury, notifies an account holder of a quarterly interest payment and the new value of his stock. The letter was written by an assistant and then signed “G. Duval”. The integral cover is also franked for free postage with another “G. Duval” signature. There are mounting remnants along the right edge of the sheet with the franking signature and typical fold lines. [#2878]

$375.00
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Pay warrant for Salt Petre to make gunpowder

Oliver Ellsworth, third Chief Justice, appointed by Washington. Pay warrant as a member of Connecticut's Committee of the Pay Table, overseeing state expenses during the Revolutionary War. The warrant authorized payment for saltpetre and is dated January 30, 1777. Saltpetre was used for making gunpowder. It is signed "O. Ellsworth". [#4690]

$350.00
 
Field, Stephen

Stephen Field –Supreme Court Justice appointed by Abraham Lincoln. Signed letter, Washington Nov. 20, 1883 to Richard Smith Esq. Written on plain rather than Court stationery Field offers some free legal advice on the custodial care of children and an estate following the father’s death. He mentions he had consulted with Mr. Evarts, most likely Andrew Johnson’s former Attorney General. The 4 pages are neatly penned by an assistant and then signed by the Justice. A separate sheet has a half-page P.S. also in the clerk’s hand. [#5001]

$200.00
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Abe Fortas – Supreme Court Justice, unsuccessful nominee for Chief Justice. Fortas signed an engraved Supreme Court card. His typical cramped signature is strategically placed below his engraved name rather than the card’s center to prevent any future writing above his signature. Fortas was appointed to the Court by his friend LBJ in 1965 but forced to resign in 1969. LBJ nominated Fortas for Chief Justice in 1968 to succeed Earl Warren. Election year politics and an emerging financial scandal forced him to withdraw his nomination and then resign from the Court the following year. Fortas I somewhat uncommon in Chamber cards although not a rare autograph. [#5258]

$75.00
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Refers to his arbitration of the MET Opera's orchestra strike of 1961
Supreme Court Justice, Kennedy Cabinet Secretary, UN Ambassador

Goldberg responds to an invitation from a friend at the United Nations Association –USA and references one of his noteworthy labor arbitration cases as John Kennedy’s Secretary of Labor. In 1961 Goldberg helped settle a strike by the NY Metropolitan Opera’s symphony orchestra. He humorously notes that he will be able to enjoy the special UN concert because “I will be spared the necessity of settling the symphony strike so that the concert can proceed.” The October 13, 1972 letter is on his personal stationary and he had signed in full “Arthur J. Goldberg”. The letter is in excellent condition.

Goldberg had one of the more varied and distinguished careers of the post-WWII Justices. He served as Secretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and later appointed by Kennedy to the Supreme Court to fill the “Jewish seat” crated by Felix Frankfurter’s resignation in 1962. Lyndon Johnson offered him the Ambassadorship to the United Nations which Goldberg surprisingly accepted in 1965 forcing him off the Court. His relatively short term of less than three years on the Court make him one of the modern Justices with the shortest tenure. His letters as a Justice are somewhat uncommon. [#4213]

$125.00
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Uncommon Supreme Court card

Appointed by Kennedy, Goldberg’s Court tenure was only a brief two years and ten months making his Court material, including the Court cards, somewhat scarce. [#5289]

$90.00
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Associate Justice (1882-1902)

A blank card, measuring 4 x 3 boldly signed in a brown ink “Horace Gray Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.” Some slight age toning otherwise the card is in excellent condition with a perfect example of his signature and full title. [#2636]

Gray served as a Justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and then as its Chief Justice. He was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Chester Arthur and served there for twenty years, finally resigning after a stroke limited his work. He was replaced by a fellow Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes.

[#2636]

$175.00
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Supreme Court Justice appointed by Chester Arthur

Supreme Court Justice, autograph letters signed, one page from Lenox, Mass Sept. 7, 1860. The letter appears to be a recommendation of a candidate for some unnamed club or organization. Gray was appointed by Chester Arthur and served on the Court for 20 years. [#4490]

$200.00
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Hughes receives the Theodore Roosevelt medal

Chief Justice, Sec. of State, Presidential candidate. Signed letter 10/3/28 to George Kunz acknowledging congratulations on his being awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal for 1928. [#4604]

$150.00
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Charles Evans Hughes, signed letter Nov. 20, 1923 on Sec. of State stationary to Rev. Francis Clark offering a letter of introduction to the to diplomatic representatives in preparation of a trip. [#3993]

$150.00
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-Supreme Court Justice, ALS, Washington July 21, 1885 sending his autograph. [#2068]

$200.00
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Lincoln appointment to the Supreme Court
Associate Justice (1861-1890)

A blank card signed “Sam. F. Miller Justice Supreme Court United States.” There is some slight age toning to the card and two small pin holes in the upper corners, otherwise in excellent condition. It measures 3 x 2 . This is a nice addition to a Supreme Court or Lincoln collection. .

Samuel Miller was an active Whig turned Republican activist in the 1860 election. A Lincoln supporter in Iowa, Miller was rewarded when Lincoln’s nominated him to the Court. A sympathizer of Lincoln’s struggle during the War, Miller upheld Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and the right to try civilians by military tribunals. [#1876]

$150.00
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Lincoln appointee to the Supreme Court

Autograph letter signed, February 11, 1887. Miller bows out of an invitation to an informal stag event due to his anniversary. “Mrs. Miller has invited a few friends for that evening on account of the 30th Anniversary of our wedding.” The letter is written on the first and third pages of a folded four page 8vo sheet. It is fairly early example of engraved Supreme Court stationary which adds to the appeal of this handwritten letter by one of Abraham Lincoln’s Court appointees.

Samuel Miller was an active Whig turned Republican activist in the 1860 election. A Lincoln supporter in Iowa, Miller was rewarded when Lincoln’s nominated him to the Court. A sympathizer of Lincoln’s struggle during the War, Miller upheld Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and the right to try civilians by military tribunals.

[#4454]

$500.00
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Sherman Minton – Supreme Court Justice, Indiana Senator. Supreme Court card signed as a retired Justice, with matching envelope from June 1964. Minton signs with a larger than normal signature in a shaky hand showing his advanced age. Minton was a FDR New Deal Senator from Indiana serving one term and later appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals by FDR. Truman nominated him to the Supreme Court, serving from 1949-1956. The engraved card carries the briefly used engraved format “Supreme Court of the United States/ Washington 25, D.C.” with 25 being an early form of zip code. The matching envelope though switches to the current format of a five digit code following D.C. [#5255]

$75.00
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Sherman Minton – LS on Court stationery with envelope 10/29/49. Responding to an autograph request, Minton explains he has no photos and is not expecting to have new photos for distribution i.e. for autograph collectors. [#5254]

$90.00
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Morse laments the beginning of the Telegraph Case

Morse, Samuel F. B. – ALS, January 1851 to Rev. Raymond Seely concerning his patent over the telegraph and electromagnetics. In part: “I am compelled to have my mind wholly absorbed in the self defence in the interminable litigation that has been forced upon me, from having in a sad hour for my own peace, given way to the delusion that a Patent was a protection and guarantee of justice.” The dispute led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling known as The Telegraph Case.
Scottish inventor Alexander Bain had developed an early form of a fax machine which, using electrical impulses was able to copy images and then transmit them over wire. This was an invention that used some basic transmission principles from the telegraph and enhanced them by copying images rather than Samuel Morse’s dot-dash method to convey messages. Henry O’Reilly took Bain’s invention to create a competing model to Morse’s telegraph. Morse’s legal challenge to O’Reilly began as the injunction mentioned in this letter and ended over two years later in the Supreme Court’s landmark patent case O’Reilly v. Morse, more commonly known as the Telegraph Case. The Supreme Court upheld Morse’s claim of inventing the telegraph but denied his claim of a patent on a scientific concept or idea, in this case the properties of electrical impulses. Rev. Raymond H. Seely was a prominent Congregational minister in Massachusetts who at a much later celebration with Morse in Paris recalled being in the room with Morse when the first message was sent.

Pokeepsie, Jany 18, 1851
My dear Sir,
Your kind favor of the 15th reached me yesterday for which receive my thanks. I need not say how much gratified I should be could I comply with your polite invitation to meet Prof. Mitchell at your house, since I hold him in the highest respect. But, alas, my dear Sir, I am compelled to have my mind wholly absorbed in the self defense in the interminable litigation that has been forced upon me, from having in a sad hour for my own peace, given way to the delusion that a Patent was a protection and guarantee of justice.
I should be much gratified to compare notes with Prof. Mitchell on some points. Bain’s machine infringes in several points upon mine, and it is for this infringement that a motion for injunction will be heard in April at Phil.---
Although it is entirely out of my favor to be with, accept my thanks for your politeness, and my best respects to Prof. Mitchell.
In haste but truly yr. friend & servt.
Saml F. B. Morse.

Rev. R. H. Seely

$4,000.00
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uncommon ALS as Attorney General

Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy, uncommon autograph letter signed as Attorney General, July 5, 1939. The letter to Sam [Whitaker] is a warm personal letter of thanks to his former assistant who is leaving to become a Judge on the Court of Claims. Murphy signs the letter in full.

Murphy served as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Attorney General from 1939-1940 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court, replacing Pierce Butler. Murphy served on the Court until 1949.

$150.00
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-- Supreme Court Justice, 3 page ALS 9/28/1868. A chatty letter with personal content about visiting his grandchildren. Nelson was appointed to the Court by President John Tyler and served from 1845-1872. [#2874]

$300.00
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Autograph note signed on a Supreme Court card, undated, to the Marshall of the Court asking him to arrange for seats at a Court session for some friends. It is signed “H. F. Stone”. There is some toning and a crease in the lower left blank corner. An uncommon example of communications within the Court. [#5050]

$225.00
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FDR's last Supreme Court

Supreme Court – FDR’s Supreme Court, represented by nine separate engraved Chamber cards. The cards are signed by the nine Justices sitting at the time of Roosevelt’s death, eight of whom were appointed by Roosevelt. An earlier Court frustrated Roosevelt by striking down key New Deal initiatives. That led him to try to pack the Court with additional Justices that he would appoint. The proposal was a remarkable overreach rejected by Congress. In time though the old Justices retired or died and by the time FDR died eight of the nine Justices were his appointees. (A ninth appointee, James Byrnes, served briefly but retired after one year and was replaced by Wiley Rutledge, FDR’s last nominee.) The group includes Owen Roberts, appointed by Hoover, Harlan Stone, a Taft appointee who FDR promoted to Chief Justice, and then the seven other FDR Justices: Hugo Black (appointed in 1937), Stanley Reed (1938), Felix Frankfurter (1939), William O. Douglas (1939), Frank Murphy (1940), Robert Jackson (1941) and Wiley Rutledge (1943). Stone’s card has a paperclip stain, Rutledge, Douglas, and Jackson each personalized the cards to the collector. All are accompanied by their mailing envelopes addressed to the same collector. [#5252]

$500.00
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Signed letter on Supreme Court letterhead, 3/24/28, to the Commander of the American Legion. "The attitude of the Legion toward the Constitution and the observance of the principles of good government is most heartening to us all." [#4044]

$150.00
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Signed check as Chief Justice 1/25/49 to Baley's Food Store for $141.99. [#4695]

$75.00
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Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1874-1888)

Autograph letter signed as Chief Justice. Dated October 10, 1876, Washington, the Chief Justice writes to a young autograph collector sending her a copy of a letter he wrote three years earlier to a Capt. Dorr. As evident in the letter the Captain had made the request on behalf of the collector directly to the Chief Justice. It is written in bold, dark ink. The 8vo sheet is neatly mounted at the left edge to a larger sheet, otherwise in excellent condition. (#1899)

$450.00
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Earl Warren – Chief Justice, Governor of California. Engraved vignette of the Supreme Court on 8 x 6 card stock signed “Earl Warren Chief Justice 9/30/63”. There is some light uneven toning from what appears to be contact with other paper in storage rather than sunlight from display. Warren is not common in Supreme Court cards or these vignettes. This is a particularly desirable example since he dated it and added his title. Warren signed this during the last quiet days he would have for the next year. The 1963-1964 Court term began the following week and less than one year later on Sept. 24, 1964 he would present President Johnson the results of the Warren Commission on the Kennedy assassination. The Court term was not calm that year with some major decisions such as New York Times v. Sullivan (First Amendment and the press) and some Equal Protection and reapportionment cases such as Reynolds v. Sims. [#5288]

$150.00
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Charles Whittaker- Supreme Court Justice. Whittaker signs an engraved Supreme Court card with a large nicely centered black ink signature, with matching envelope. The card and matching envelope carry the briefly used format “Supreme Court of the United States/ Washington 25, D.C.” with 25 being an early form of zip code. Whittaker was appointed to the Court by Eisenhower in 1957 but only served for five years. Signatures from his brief tenure, including Chamber cards, are less common than most of his colleagues from the period. [#5256]

$90.00