Tell Us What You Really Think

95px-Joseph_McKenna_(assoc_justice)I’ve started going through all of the opinions by the Four Horsemen (it’ll take a while), and I was tickled by a dissent to Justice Butler’s opinion in US v. New River Co., 265 U.S. 533 (1924).  The case involved a challenge by some railroads to a rule promulgated by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the Court upheld the rule as not unreasonable. Justice McKenna dissented.  He started out his opinion with this gem: “Let me state the proposition of the opinion denuded of the confusion of its words.”

After summarizing the holding, McKenna then wrote: “I am unable to assent and yet I hesitate to dissent. Certainly hesitate to do so by unsupported declaration. I am, however, puzzled to go beyond declaration. Exposition seems to be that of demonstrating the certainty and self-evidence of an axiom.”

McKenna resigned from the Court about six months later due to illness.



You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Shag from Brookline says:

    Perhaps Justice McKenna suffered from “mugwampishness.”

  2. Joe says:

    My understanding is that Justice McKenna — in the opinions of various colleagues — should have retired on account of illness (his confusion in the dissent apparently had a certain honesty to it) some time before that.