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Joseph Philo Bradley (March 14, 1813 – January 22, 1892) was an American jurist best known for his service on the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the Federal judiciary of the United States, federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate and largely Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United ...

United States Supreme Court
, and on the
Electoral Commission An election commission is a body charged with overseeing the implementation of electioneering process of any country. The formal names of election commissions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and may be styled an electoral commission, a ce ...

Electoral Commission
that decided the disputed 1876 presidential election.


Early life

The son of Philo Bradley and Mercy Gardner Bradley, Bradley was born to humble beginnings in
Berne ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
. He was the oldest of 12 children. He attended local schools and began teaching at the age of 16. In 1833, the
Dutch Reformed Church The Dutch Reformed Church (, abbreviated NHK) was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two maj ...

Dutch Reformed Church
of Berne advanced Joseph Bradley $250 to study for the ministry at
Rutgers University Rutgers University (RU; ), officially known as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an orga ...
. He graduated in 1836. After graduation, he was made Principal of the
Millstone Academy Millstone is a Borough (New Jersey), borough in Somerset County, New Jersey, Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. It was originally known as Somerset Courthouse and was the county seat. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's p ...
, and decided to study law. He was persuaded by his Rutgers classmate
Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (August 4, 1817May 20, 1885) was an American lawyer and politician from New Jersey who served as a U.S. Senator and later as United States Secretary of State The United States secretary of state is an office ...
to join him in and pursue legal studies at the Office of the Collector of the Port of Newark. He was admitted to the
bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the len ...
in 1839. Bradley began in private practice in
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
, specializing in
patent A patent is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depe ...
and railroad law, and he became very prominent in these fields and quite wealthy. Bradley remained dedicated to self-study throughout his life and collected an extensive library. He married Mary Hornblower in Newark in 1844. In 1851, Bradley, once employed as an
actuary An actuary is a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something bad happening. Risk involves uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic situat ...
for the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, submitted an article to the '' Journal of the Institute of Actuaries'' detailing an historical account of a
Severan dynasty The Severan dynasty was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Tes ...
-era
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman
life table In actuarial science Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical Mathematics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
compiled by the Roman jurist
Ulpian Ulpian (; la, Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus; c. 170223? 228?) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', short ...

Ulpian
in approximately 220 AD during the reign of
Elagabalus Elagabalus ( 204 – 11 March 222), also called Heliogabalus and officially known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 ...
(218–222) that was included in the '' Digesta seu Pandectae'' (533) codification ordered by
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
(527–565) of the
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Eastern Roman Empire
.


Appointment to the Supreme Court

As a commercial litigator, Bradley argued many cases before various federal courts, earning him a national reputation. Thus, when Congress passed the
Judiciary Act of 1869 The Judiciary Act of 1869, sometimes called the Circuit Judges Act of 1869, a United States statute, provided that the Supreme Court of the United States would consist of the Chief Justice of the United States, chief justice of the United States a ...
, creating a new seat on the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Americ ...

U.S. Supreme Court
, he was sufficiently well known by associates of
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a chief executive officer ...

President
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Grant
to be recommended as a Supreme Court nominee. Bradley was nominated on February 7 and was confirmed by the
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on March 21, taking his seat on the court as an
Associate Justice Associate justice or associate judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the chief justice The chief justice is the presiding member of a supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or i ...
that same day. On moving to Washington, Bradley purchased the home that had previously belonged to
Stephen A. Douglas Stephen Arnold Douglas (April 23, 1813 – June 3, 1861) was an American politician and lawyer from Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magaz ...
. Bradley remained on the bench until 1891, when he became greatly weakened by disease (possibly
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
). He took his seat on the bench in October of that year, but was forced to retire a few weeks later by failing health. He died a few months later.


Supreme Court jurisprudence

Bradley took a broad view of the national government's powers under the
Commerce Clause The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated powerThe enumerated powers (also called expressed powers, explicit powers or delegated powers) of the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legisl ...
but interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment somewhat narrowly, as did much of the rest of the court at the time. He authored the majority opinion in the
Civil Rights Cases The ''Civil Rights Cases'', 109 U.S. 3 (1883), were a group of five landmark A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controll ...
of 1883 but was among the four dissenters in the ''
Slaughter-House Cases The ''Slaughter-House Cases'', 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1873), are a landmark U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United ...
'' in 1873. His interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment in both cases remained the basis for subsequent rulings through the modern era. Bradley concurred with the court's decision in '' Bradwell v. Illinois'', which held that the right to practice law was not constitutionally protected under the
Privileges or Immunities Clause The Privileges or Immunities Clause is Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or esta ...
of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bradley disagreed with the majority opinion, apparently because it rested on the decision in the ''Slaughter-House Cases'', but concurred in the judgment on grounds that the clause did not protect women in their choice of vocation. The concurrence is noted for Bradley's description of womanhood: "The harmony, not to say identity, of interest and views which belong, or should belong, to the family institution is repugnant to the idea of a woman adopting a distinct and independent career from that of her husband (...) The paramount destiny and mission of women are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator." It was due to Bradley's intervention that prisoners charged in the Colfax Massacre of 1873 were freed, after he happened to attend their trial and ruled that the federal law they were charged under was unconstitutional. This resulted in the federal government's bringing the case on appeal to the Supreme Court as '' United States v. Cruikshank'' (1875). The court's ruling on this case meant that the federal government would not intervene on paramilitary and group attacks on individuals. It essentially opened the door to heightened paramilitary activity in the South that forced Republicans from office, suppressed black voting, and opened the way for white Democratic takeover of state legislatures, and resulting
Jim Crow laws Jim Crow laws were state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...
and passage of disfranchising constitutions. Bradley dissented in '' Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co. v. Minnesota'', which, though not racially motivated, was another
due process Due process is the legal requirement that the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
case arising from the Fourteenth Amendment. In his dissent, Bradley argued that the majority had in siding with the railroad created a situation where the reasonableness of an act of a state legislature was a judicial question, subjugating the legislature to the will of the judiciary. Bradley's opinion in this case is echoed in modern arguments regarding
judicial activism Judicial activism is a judicial philosophy holding that the courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider broader societal implications of its decisions. It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint Judicial restraint ...
. Bradley also wrote the opinion in ''
Hans v. Louisiana ''Hans v. Louisiana'', 134 U.S. 1 (1890), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United Stat ...
'', holding that a state could not be sued in a
federal court Federal court may refer to: United States * Federal judiciary of the United States ** United States district court, a particular federal court Elsewhere * Federal Court of Australia * Federal courts of Brazil * Federal Court (Canada) * Federal Cou ...
by one of its own citizens. This is perhaps ironic in light of his dissent in the railroad case, since the ''Hans'' doctrine is entirely based on
judicial activism Judicial activism is a judicial philosophy holding that the courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider broader societal implications of its decisions. It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint Judicial restraint ...
and, as Bradley admitted in his opinion, not supported by the text of the Constitution. As an individual Supreme Court Justice, Bradley decided ''In re Guiteau'', a petition for
habeas corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
filed on behalf of
Charles Guiteau Charles is a masculine given name predominantly found in English language, English and French language, French speaking countries. It is from the French form ''Charles'' of the Proto-Germanic, Proto-Germanic name ᚲᚨᚱᛁᛚᚨᛉ (in r ...
, the assassin of
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a chief executive officer ...

President
James A. Garfield James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831September 19, 1881) was the 20th president of the United States, serving from March to September 1881. Garfield was shot by an assassin four months into his presidency and died two months later. He is the ...

James A. Garfield
. Guiteau's lawyers argued that he had been improperly tried in the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...

District of Columbia
because, although Guiteau shot Garfield in Washington, D.C., Garfield died at his home in New Jersey. Bradley denied the petition in a lengthy opinion and Guiteau was executed.


1876 Electoral Commission

Bradley is best remembered as being the 15th and final member of the
Electoral Commission An election commission is a body charged with overseeing the implementation of electioneering process of any country. The formal names of election commissions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and may be styled an electoral commission, a ce ...

Electoral Commission
that decided the disputed 1876 presidential election between
Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
and
Democrat Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: Politics *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people ...
Samuel J. Tilden Samuel Jones Tilden (February 9, 1814 – August 4, 1886) was an American politician who served as the 25th Governor of New York and was the Democratic candidate for president in the disputed 1876 United States presidential election. Tilden wa ...

Samuel J. Tilden
. A Republican since the early days of the party, Bradley was not an obvious first choice. The four justices charged with selecting the fifth and final justice (who, all realized, would be the deciding vote on the commission as all 14 other members were strictly partisan) initially chose justice David Davis for the job, but as Davis had just been elected to the
United States Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, politi ...
he was unable to join. The justices then settled on Bradley. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, though it is evident that Bradley was thought by his colleagues to be the most politically neutral; the court overall at that time had more Republicans than Democrats, however. Bradley wrote a number of opinions while on the electoral commission, and like the other members sided with his own party. The final 8-7 vote, which split along partisan lines, effectively made Hayes president, and Bradley was characterized in the press as the "casting vote", or tiebreaker. Democrats, who had hoped that Bradley might side with their candidate, focused their anger on him rather than on his fellow Republicans on the panel. Press reports that criticized the decision singled out Bradley for vilification, and he received a number of death threats. There have been detailed but unproven claims over the years that Bradley originally planned to come down on the side of Tilden, but was lobbied into changing his mind on the night before the final decision. These claims have been discussed at length in various studies of the electoral dispute. Bradley always denied that he had been improperly influenced by anyone.


Death

Bradley died in Washington, D.C., in 1892 and was interred at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in , New Jersey. Bradley's personal, legal, and court papers are archived at the
New Jersey Historical Society The New Jersey Historical Society is a historical society Image:Nelson Aldrich House edit1.jpg, The Nelson W. Aldrich House, headquarters of the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence, Rhode Island, US A historical society (sometimes also ...

New Jersey Historical Society
in Newark and open for research.


''Damnatio Memoriae''

In 2021, Rutgers University, Bradley's '' alma mater'', deleted his name from a building the university acquired in 1971; a University committee "recommended Bradley's name be removed after a study of his judicial record. The study showed Bradley chose to use his position as a Supreme Court Justice to undo reconstruction, regressing on civil rights and opening a new era of oppression".Bradley Hall , Rutgers University - Newark
/ref>


See also

*
List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States #REDIRECT List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States #REDIRECT List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States#REDIRECT List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States ...


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Bradley, Joseph Philo 1813 births 1892 deaths 19th-century American judges Burials at Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Newark, New Jersey) New Jersey lawyers New Jersey Republicans People from Berne, New York Rutgers University alumni United States federal judges appointed by Ulysses S. Grant 1876 United States presidential election Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States