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Stanley F. Reed

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From the personal collection of Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark


“I am sure you will find the problems of justice just as interesting from the bench as from the bar."

Stanley Forman Reed, 1884-1980.  Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, 1930-1957.  Superb Autographed Letter Signed, Stanley Reed, two pages, with integral leaf attached, on stationery of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice's Chambers, dated at Durham, North Carolina, August 1, 1949.

Letters of this kind rarely reach the autograph market.  Here, Justice Reed congratulates then-Attorney General Tom C. Clark on his appointment as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  Writing to “My dear Tom,” Reed says, in full “This note will convey to you my satisfaction that you are to be one of my colleagues on the Court.  /  Your experience has given you a broad understanding of our work and I am sure you will find the problems of justice just as interesting from the bench as from the bar.  /  You and Mrs Clark will be a welcome addition to our circle.  /  Winifred joins me in good wishes to you and Mrs Clark.  /  Faithfully yours . . . ." 

President Harry S. Truman surprised reporters at his press conference on July 28, 1949, when he announced, in response to a reporter's question, that he intended to nominate Clark to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Frank Murphy.  Truman  formally nominated Clark on August 2, and the Senate confirmed him as an Associate Justice on August 18.

Reed, an appointee of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, took a moderate approach, at times siding with the liberals and at others siding with the conservatives.  A Southern Democrat, Reed was reluctant but ultimately acceded to the entreaties of Chief Justice Earl Warren to outlaw public school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).  Warren saw Reed's vote as critical because only a unanimous decision would earn public acceptance.

Reed has beautifully written and signed this letter in blue fountain pen.  The letter has one normal mailing fold, which does not affect the signature, a paper clip impression at the left margin, and staple holes in the upper left corner.  The oval purple received stamp of the Office of the Attorney General in the upper right margin on the first page affects part of the printed letterhead.  Overall the letter is in fine condition.

Provenance:  This note comes from the personal collection of Justice Tom C. Clark, who served on the Supreme Court from 1949 until 1967. Justice Clark collected the autographs of other Supreme Court Justices dating back into the 19th Century.  We are privileged to offer a number of items from the collection.



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