Justice Joseph Bradley

On this date in 1892, Justice Joseph Bradley passed away in Washington, D.C. at the age of 78. Born on March 14, 1813 in Berne, New York, Bradley graduated Rutgers University in 1836. Bradley moved to Newark, New Jersey and was admitted to the Bar in that state in 1839. In private practice in New Jersey, Bradley became nationally known for specializing in patent and railroad law. On February 7, 1870, Joseph Bradley was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant to serve as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court where he filled a new seat created by the Judiciary Act of 1869. While on the Court, Justice Bradley took an expansive view on federal authority under the Commerce Clause, while taking a narrower view of the Fourteenth Amendment, including dissenting in the Slaughterhouse cases (1873) and the Civil Rights Cases (1883). In 1876, Bradley was appointed to the Electoral Commission which decided the winner of the disputed Presidential election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden. Justice Bradley provided the crucial vote which gave the election to Hayes. Justice Bradley died while still serving on the Court. One scholar once wrote of Bradley: “His dignity was the dignity of simplicity, his strength the strength of quiet power. Men learned to trust him, both as a lawyer and as a judge, for his preparation was thorough, his equipment complete.”