Justice George Shiras, Jr.

On this date in 1903, Justice George Shiras, Jr. retired as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Shiras was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 26, 1832. He studied at Ohio University and Yale, where he graduated in 1853. He briefly studied at Yale Law School before leaving to “read the law” at a law firm in Pittsburgh. He was admitted to the bar in 1855. He practiced with his brothers in Dubuque, Iowas for three years before moving back to Pittsburgh, where he practiced in a law firm for 37 years specializing in corporations and railroads. In 1881, Shiras even turned down an appointment by the Pennsylvania legislature to serve in the United States Senate. On July 19, 1892, President Benjamin Harrison nominated George Shiras, Jr. to serve as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court to the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Joseph Bradley. Once confirmed, Shiras vowed to serve only ten years which is a vow he kept. While on the Court, Justice Shiras was known for his “unadorned and cool style” where he relied heavily on precedent and conventional rules to support his decisions. After retirement in 1903 at age 70, Shiras returned to Pittsburgh where he lived in obscurity until his death twenty years later at age 92 on August 2, 1924.