William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft

Chief Justice

William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857. He came from a distinguished Ohio family. He died on March 8, 1930.

He was eduated at Yale where he was the class salutatorian. He studied at Cincinnati Law School and was admitted to the bar at the age of 23.

Government Service:
Taft enjoyed his experience on the bench but left to become civilian governor of the Philippines, after the Spanish-American War. Three years later, President Theodore Roosevelt named Taft as his secretary of war. Taft's influence in the Republican Party increased to the point that he was nominated as the party's presidential candidate in 1908. He won and he served only one term as president. He was re-nominated in 1912, but his former ally, Theodore Roosevelt, split off to launch his own candidacy under the auspices of the Bull Moose Party. The result divided the Republican vote and Woodrow Wilson (the Democratic candidate) was elected.

Judicial Offices:
By the time he was 30, he had been appointed to the Ohio Superior Court. He remained there three years when President Benjamin Harrison appointed Taft as his solicitor general. Two years later, Harrison nominated Taft to be a federal appellate judge. Then in 1921, when President Warren Harding selected Taft to replace Edward D. White as chief justice. He was commissioned on June 30, 1921 and he was sworn in on July 11, 1921. Taft retired on February 3, 1930.

As chief, Taft is remembered more for innovations in judicial administration than for his legal agenda. He successfully pressed Congress to pass laws that gave the court almost unlimited discretion to decide which cases it will hear.

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