One person who probably deserves a new biography is Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone. I just finished reading Alpheus Mason’s book on the Justice, which was written in 1956. It’s a thorough and engaging account, but there are a couple of problems with the book. First, it is a rather fawning account–the subtitle might as well have been “He Was Fabulous.” Second, the story is quite dated, as you might expect from a book written sixty years ago. Race is largely absent from the narrative, as is as any discussion of Stone’s decision to join Holmes’ opinion in Buck v. Bell. Stone also made the unfortunate decision (when he was Attorney General) to name J. Edgar Hoover as the FBI Director, which the book talks about relatively briefly.
Stone is a near-great Justice. He isn’t in the first rank because his opinions aren’t that quotable. But his contributions after the “switch-in-time,” especially Carolone Products and Darby, remain vital texts for understanding judicial review. Someone should tell his story again.