Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes Sr. (April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948) was an American statesman, Republican Party politician, and the 11th Chief Justice of the United States. He was also the 36th Governor of New York, the Republican presidential nominee in the 1916 presidential election, and the 44th United States Secretary of State.
Born to a Welsh immigrant preacher and his wife in Glens Falls, New York, Hughes pursued a legal career in New York City. After working in private practice for several years, in 1905 he led successful state investigations into public utilities and the life insurance industry. He won election as the Governor of New York in 1906 and implemented several progressive reforms. In 1910, President William Howard Taft appointed Hughes as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Hughes often joined Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in voting to uphold state and federal regulations.
Hughes served as an Associate Justice until 1916, when he resigned from the bench to accept the Republican presidential nomination. Though Hughes was widely viewed as the favorite in the race against incumbent Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, Wilson won a narrow victory. After Warren G. Harding won the 1920 presidential election, Hughes accepted Harding’s offer to serve as Secretary of State. Serving under Harding and Calvin Coolidge, Hughes negotiated the Washington Naval Treaty, which was designed to prevent a naval arms race among the United States, Britain, and Japan. Hughes left office in 1925 and returned to private practice, becoming one of the most prominent attorneys in the country.
In 1930, President Herbert Hoover appointed Hughes to succeed Chief Justice Taft. Along with Associate Justice Owen Roberts, Hughes emerged as a key swing vote on the bench, positioned between the liberal Three Musketeers and the conservative Four Horsemen. The Hughes Court struck down several New Deal programs in the early and the mid-1930s, but 1937 marked a turning point for the Supreme Court and the New Deal as Hughes and Roberts joined with the Three Musketeers to uphold the Wagner Act and a state minimum wage law. That same year saw the defeat of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court. Hughes served until 1941, when he retired and was succeeded by Associate Justice Harlan F. Stone.