George Shiras, Jr.

Media Items
Personal Information
Thursday, January 26, 1832
Saturday, August 2, 1924
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Tuesday, July 26, 1892
Sworn In 
Monday, October 10, 1892
Left Office 
Monday, February 23, 1903
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
10 years, 4 months, 13 days
George Shiras, Jr.
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: A. L. Dohlberg)

George Shiras engaged in the private practice of law for 40 years before his appointment to the High Court. He had no experience in public office and charted an independent course once he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Benjamin Harrison.

Shiras's decade on the Court revealed an "unadorned and cool style" and his interpretive approach relied heavily on precedent and conventional rules. The major issues confronting the Court included freedom of contract under the Fourteenth Amendment, the reach of national authority under the commerce power, and the constraints on individual liberty and property arising from legitimate enlargement of national power. Shiras was a participant in all these areas but he was not a leader in any one.

Shiras came to the defense of individuals who challenged government power. But he did not articulate a compelling jurisprudence for others to follow. Shiras retired at seventy with little notice and died more than twenty years later with hardly a ripple of attention.

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George Shiras, Jr.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
George Shiras, Jr., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"George Shiras, Jr.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,