Robert C. Grier

Media Items
Personal Information
Wednesday, March 5, 1794
Sunday, September 25, 1870
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Tuesday, August 4, 1846
Sworn In 
Monday, August 10, 1846
Left Office 
Monday, January 31, 1870
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
23 years, 5 months, 21 days
Robert C. Grier
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Malcolm Stephens Parcell)

Robert Cooper Grier was probably born to be a Presbyterian minister like his father and maternal grandfather. He was educated by his father until he was seventeen when the young Grier enrolled in Dickinson College. Grier graduated a year later. But Grier elected law, not the ministry. He studied privately, passed the bar, and became a prominent local attorney in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

As a loyal Jacksonian Democrat, Grier won a patronage appointment as a state trial judge. Grier served in this position for thirteen years.

President Polk nominated Grier in 1846 to fill the vacancy created by Justice Baldwin's death two years earlier. Baldwin's seat remained vacant despite President Tyler's effort to fill it with two nominees. The vacancy remained when Polk assumed office. Polk first offered the position to James Buchanan, who turned it down. Then Polk nominated George Woodward, but the Senate balked and refused to confirm him. Grier was nominated and confirmed by a unanimous Senate.

Grier stayed beyond his ability to function. He was frail of mind and of body. He retired shortly after a committee of his colleagues urged him to step down.

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Robert C. Grier. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
Robert C. Grier, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"Robert C. Grier," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,