James C. McReynolds

Media Items
Personal Information
Monday, February 3, 1862
Saturday, August 24, 1946
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Saturday, August 29, 1914
Sworn In 
Monday, October 12, 1914
Left Office 
Friday, January 31, 1941
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
26 years, 3 months, 19 days
James C. McReynolds
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Bjorn Egeli)

James Clark McReynolds was born in Kentucky and raised on a plantation there. He graduated from Vanderbilt and studied law at the University of Virginia. He returned to Tennessee to practice law except for a two-year break when he served as "secretary" to Supreme Court justice Howell Jackson.

McReynolds campaigned unsuccessfully for Congress on the Democratic ticket. He later held an appointment in the Justice Department under the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, where he concentrated on antitrust matters.

He returned to private practice, this time in New York. McReynolds was a strong Wilson supporter in the 1912 election. In return, Wilson appointed him attorney general. McReynolds had the gift of irritating those around him. Perhaps to rid his administration of his testy colleague, Wilson nominated McReynolds to the High Court. There he was a thorn to Progressive and New Deal legislation, earning a designation as one of the "Four Horsemen."

His manner affected his relationships on the Court. For example, he refused to converse with John Clarke (also appointed by Wilson) because Clarke was too liberal. And McReynolds made no secret of his anti-Semitism by refusing to speak to fellow justices Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo.

Clerk Law School Terms Clerked
John T. McHale 1937
John Frush Knox Harvard (1936) 1936
Maurice J. Mahoney 1927

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James C. McReynolds. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_c_mcreynolds>.
James C. McReynolds, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_c_mcreynolds (last visited August 25, 2015).
"James C. McReynolds," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_c_mcreynolds.