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Supreme Court Developments
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Click on a date to learn more about Supreme Court developments during a specific time period.
1787 1794 1810 1833 1857 1866 1874 1883 1896 1910 1918 1930 1935 1941 1954 1963 1966 1973 1981 1989 1995 2000 2005
Race and Class Take Front and Center
1930
Chief Justice William Howard Taft, suffering from ill health, announces his resignation; later that same day, President Herbert Hoover nominates Charles Evans Hughes to replace him. After a bitter confirmation fight, the Senate confirms Hughes's appointment. Hughes had served on the Court as an Associate Justice from 1910 to 1916, resigning to accept the Republican nomination for president and run against President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Hughes lost the election, but later held posts in the Harding and Coolidge administrations before receiving his second appointment to the Court.

1932
The Court reverses the convictions of the "Scottsboro boys," nine black men from Scottsboro, Alabama, who had been found guilty of raping a group of white women and sentenced to die. The Court finds, in Powell v. Alabama, that the young men's attorney had been appointed only on the morning of their trial and had therefore been unable to provide a meaningful defense. The case returns to the Alabama state court for a second trial, in which all nine are again convicted -- this time despite testimony from one alleged victim that no rape had occurred. Once again, the Supreme Court overturns their convictions, this time due to the exclusion of blacks from the jury. At a third trial, four of the men are convicted, one pleads guilty, and four have charges against them dropped.

Photo of the ''Scottsboro Nine''s and their lawyer, Samuel Leibowitz.
The "Scottsboro Nine" and their lawyer, Samuel Leibowitz.
1933
The Twentieth Amendment shortens the interval between the election and inauguration of the President and Congress. Improvements in transportation and communications render a long delay before inauguration no longer necessary.

1933
The Twenty-first Amendment repeals the Eighteenth.

1934
In Nebbia v. New York, the Court upholds a New York law establishing minimum prices for the sale of milk -- one of several emergency measures the state has taken to ameliorate some of the economic hardships of the Great Depression. Since the late nineteenth century, the Court has held that states could only regulate those businesses that were "affected with public interest"; the decision in Nebbia breaks with that precedent, finding that states are "free to adopt whatever economic policy may reasonably be deemed to promote public welfare."