Monday, May 17, 2010

Justice Judah P. Benjamin?

Did you know that President Millard Fillmore offered to nominate Judah P. Benjamin to the United States Supreme Court? From Eli N. Evans, Judah P. Benjamin, The Jewish Confederate:
Soon after his [Benjamin's] election to the Senate, his career almost took another extraordinary turn. In the fall of 1852, the outgoing President, Millard Fillmore, offered him a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. It was a seat that had been promised to a Southerner who could represent the Fifth Circuit (consisting of Alabama and Louisiana) held by the late Justice John McKinley. The Democrats in the Senate were not going to approve the nominations of a lame-duck Whig President and rejected three candidates that Fillmore put forward. On February 15, 1853, the New York Times reported that “if the President nominates Benjamin, the Democrats are determined to confirmed him.” It predicted that “Mr. Benjamin, the new Senator, if nominated would be promptly confirmed.”
Benjamin declined Millard's offer. “It would require another sixty years before the first Jew [Louis Brandeis, 1916] would sit on the nation's highest court.”

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