Harlan, John Marshall
A man of strong and independent convictions and, on the whole, a strict constructionist, Harlan became known as a dissenter. In the
insular cases (1901) he protested against the decision that denied the residents of the new U.S. possessions the national benefits of the Constitution. He upheld the police power of the states, dissented in the civil-rights cases (1883) and the income-tax case (1894), and argued that the court had no right to read the word unreasonable into the Sherman Act in the decisions against the Standard Oil and American Tobacco trusts. A firm defender of civil liberties and civil rights, Justice Harlan dissented vigorously in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), in which the Supreme Court enunciated the
separate but equal doctrine justifying segregation. In 1893, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him to the tribunal to settle the Bering Sea Fur-Seal Controversy (see under Bering Sea) at Paris.
See the memoirs of his wife, M. S. Harlan, Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854–1911 (2002); F. B. Clark, The Constitutional Doctrines of Justice Harlan (1915); F. Latham, The Great Dissenter (1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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