New Term for the Supreme Court, but No Kentucky Justices Anymore

Memorial Plaque Honoring Justice
Stanley Forman Reed in Maysville, Ky.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States opens its Term and will hear four cases. On the bench sit the nine justices, none of whom are from Kentucky.

Five Kentuckians have served on the Supreme Court with Justice Stanley Forman Reed holding the position most recently. He was on the bench for nineteen years before he retired in 1957. 
Other Supreme Court Justices from Kentucky with their dates of service are Thomas Todd (1807-1826), Robert Trimble (1826-1828), John Marshall Harlan (1877-1911), and Fred M. Vinson (1946-1953).

Shortly before his retirement from the bench, Reed’s “friends and life-long associates” had a plaque installed on the fa├žade of the courthouse in Reed’s native Mason County.

Reed was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1938 after having served as Roosevelt’s Solicitor General. When he stepped down from the bench in 1957, he was the last Justice who had not obtained a law degree. Reed had previously obtained two bachelors degrees (Kentucky Wesleyan in 1902; Yale University in 1906) and had studied law, but not graduating, at both University of Virginia and Columbia University.

On the bench, Reed was the fifth “swing justice.” He was considered a progressive on economic and some social issues, but was decidedly more conservative on matters of free speech and national security. He is interred at the Maysville Cemetery and his papers are at the University of Kentucky.