NoD: Justice Stanley Reed

Maysville, KY
Stanley Reed Ct., Maysville, Ky.

On New Years Eve in 1884, Justice Stanley Forman Reed was born in Minerva, Kentucky. Minerva, situated in Mason County, is a small hamlet – but the county seat of Maysville has not forgotten its native son. A plaque honors Reed at the old courthouse and the road adjacent to it bears his name.

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.

“The United States is a constitutional democracy. Its organic law grants to all citizens a right to participate in the choice of elected officials without restriction by any state because of race.” – Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944).