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Constitutional FAQ Answer #100

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Q100. "Recently, I read in my Constitutional Law textbook, that two framers of the Constitution served as Supreme Court chief justices. However, my professor and I could only recall one, John Rutledge. Who was the second framer that served as a chief justice? "

A. John Rutledge is the only framer who signed the Constitution who actually became a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Oliver Ellsworth, who succeeded Rutledge as Chief, was at the Constitutional Convention, but left a month prior to the signing. Other framers who served as Associate Justices were James Wilson, John Blair, and William Paterson

Note that Rutledge served only until his appointment came up for confirmation in the Senate, where his nomination was rejected, partly due to political considerations, and partly due to concerns about his mental health.

The William Johnson who served as a Associate Justice in 1804 was not the same William Johnson who signed the Constitution.


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