Justice William Rufus Day

On this date in 1922, Justice William Rufus Day retired as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Day was born on April 17, 1849 in Ravenna, Ohio. A graduate of the Univesity of Michigan School of Law, Day spent the next couple of decades of his career as a litigator in Canton, Ohio. He became friends with William McKinley who would later be elected President of the United States in 1896. When McKinley went to Washington, Day followed and served as Assistant Secretary of State and later as Secretary of State. In 1899, Day resigned and returned to Ohio where he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. On January 29, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court. On the Court, Day was known to generally approve federal government regulation of transportation and selling, but not manufacturing, under the Commerce Clause. After almost twenty productive years on the Court, Day retired and accepted President Hardings appointment to the American-German Claims Commission. He only served on that Commission for about 6 months when ill health forced him to resign in May, 1923. Justice Day passed away on July 9, 1923 from lung congestion at age 73. Solicitor General John W. Davis once noted that Day’s “greatest value was in conference. His tact, his personal charm, his knowledge of the law, and his honest-mindedness were of extreme importance in discussions…”