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Hugo Black: A Featured Biography

Associate Justice Hugo Black
Associate Justice Hugo Black (Library of Congress)

Senator Hugo Black of Alabama has the distinction of being the last former senator to serve on the Supreme Court. President Franklin Roosevelt nominated the senator from Alabama to be associate justice in August 1937. In the Senate, Black had earned a reputation as a tenacious, at times aggressive, interrogator while chairman of a select committee to investigate public utility lobbying practices. The Senate swiftly confirmed Black’s nomination, making him the 12th senator to serve on the Court. Black proved to be a controversial pick when, shortly after his confirmation, he was reported to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Critics called for his resignation but Black refused. Over the next three decades on the Court, Black proved to be a staunch defender of civil rights. He retired from the Court in 1971.


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