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Joseph McKenna

McKenna, Joseph, 1843–1926, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1898–1925), b. Philadelphia. Admitted to the bar in 1865, he practiced law in California and served in the state legislature (1875–76) and the U.S. Congress (1885–92). A federal circuit judge from 1892 to 1897, he was appointed (1897) U.S. attorney general by President McKinley. He held this office for only a few months before President McKinley appointed him to the Supreme Court. Although he never developed a consistent legal philosophy, McKenna wrote a number of important decisions. Most notable was his opinion in the case of United States v. U.S. Steel Corporation (1920) in which the "rule of reason" principle, asserting that only those combinations that are in unreasonable restraint of trade are illegal, finally triumphed in antitrust cases.

See biography by M. McDevitt (1946, repr. 1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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