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The Hughes-Roberts Visit, Barry Cushman Oct 2016

The Hughes-Roberts Visit, Barry Cushman

Barry Cushman

In the 1936 case of Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo, Justice Owen Roberts voted to invalidate New York’s minimum wage law for women. The following spring, Roberts joined the majority in upholding Washington State’s minimum wage statute. How best to account for this “switch” is a central preoccupation of New Deal constitutional history. In recent years, a number of scholars have called attention to a visit that Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and his wife made to Roberts’ Pennsylvania farm in the summer of 1936, in the wake of the public firestorm following the announcement of the Tipaldo …


Lost Fidelities, Barry Cushman Oct 2016

Lost Fidelities, Barry Cushman

Barry Cushman

Owen Roberts was accused of a variety of things in 1937, but “fidelity” was not among them. Justice Harlan Fiske Stone and Professor Felix Frankfurter were among many who accused Roberts of performing, as Frankfurter put it, a jurisprudential “somersault” “incapable of being attributed to a single factor relevant to the professed judicial process.” To Frankfurter, it was “all painful beyond words,” and gave him “a sickening feeling which is aroused when moral standards are adulterated in a convent.” Yet when Roberts announced his retirement from the Court eight years later, Chief Justice Stone, along with now-Justices Frankfurter and Robert …


Interpreting Secretary Perkins, Barry Cushman Jun 2016

Interpreting Secretary Perkins, Barry Cushman

Barry Cushman

This essay is my contribution to an exchange with Professor Daniel R. Ernst of Georgetown University Law Center concerning the timing of a visit by Chief Justice Hughes and his wife to the Pennsylvania summer home of Justice Owen Roberts. In the 1950s, former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins recounted in the oral history interview she gave to Columbia University that Mrs. Roberts had reported to her that Hughes and Roberts had held extended, private conversations during that visit. It has been argued by some scholars that the visit took place during the summer of 1936, shortly after the Court …