This Day in the Law
July 11

U.S. President William Howard Taft Sworn in as 10th Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court (1921)

On July 11, former U.S. President, William Howard Taft, was sworn in as the 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Taft is the only individual in U.S. history to have been both President and Chief Justice.

William Howard Taft came from a well established Ohio family, and had a long and distinguished career in public service. Taft graduated salutatorian from Yale, attended Cincinnati Law School, and was admitted to the bar at age 23. Taft then quickly rose in the Republican party.

At the age of 30, Taft was appointed as judge to the Ohio Superior Court. Three years later President Benjamin Harrison appointed Taft as his Solicitor General. Two years later, Harrison nominated Taft as a federal appellate judge.

Taft went on to serve as the first civilian Governor of the Philippines and Secretary of War. In 1909, Taft became the 27th President of the United States where he served one term. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and the Senate approved Taft’s appointment in June 1921.

On July 11, 1921, Taft was sworn in as the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taft replaced Edward White as Chief Justice.

Taft worked to improve the efficiency of the Supreme Court. In 1925, he secured passing the Judge’s Act of 1925, which gave the Supreme Court more discretion in choosing its cases so that it could focus its attention on national and constitutional issues.

Taft advocated a somewhat conservative judicial philosophy. However, he was not opposed to change. For example, in his opinion in Myers v. United States (1926) he upheld the authority of the president to remove federal officials.

Today, Taft is one of only two Presidents to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.