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Frederick Moore Vinson

Vinson, Frederick Moore, 1890–1953, 13th chief justice of the United States (1946–53), b. Louisa, Ky. He received his law degree from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky (1911). He served (1923–29, 1931–38) in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was notable as a fiscal expert. He resigned from Congress to become associate justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and later chief justice of the U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals. He was director of the Office of Economic Stabilization (1943–45) and served briefly as federal loan administrator (Mar., 1945) and as director of the Office of War Mobilization (Apr.–July, 1945) before becoming Secretary of the Treasury (1945–46). Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone's death led to his appointment as chief justice by President Truman, a position which he held until his death. Although not remembered for an outstanding career on the Supreme Court, Vinson did make several significant decisions concerning internal security legislation. In American Communications v. Douds (1950) he found requirements that members of labor unions swear to their nonmembership in the Communist party constitutional; in Dennis v. United States (1951), he upheld the conviction of eleven leaders of the Communist party for violations of the Smith Act.

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

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