- Butler, Pierce
- (1866-1939)The son of Irish immigrants, Pierce Butler was born in Northfield, Minnesota. He was admitted to the Minnesota bar in 1888. He was briefly assistant county attorney and was elected county attorney in 1892 and 1894. In 1908, he was chosen as president of the Minnesota State Bar Association. A Democrat, Butler narrowly lost election to the state senate in 1906, but he continued to advise state governors. As a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota during World War I, he supported the dismissal of professors who expressed pacifist or radical opinions. In 1922, President Warren Harding nominated him to the United States Supreme Court, and he served until 1939. He was generally conservative, committed to principles of laissez faire, and opposed to any expansion of the power of the federal government and voted against almost every New Deal measure. Butler was also conservative on issues of civil liberties and civil rights, and he opposed the rejection of the conviction of the Scottsboro Boys in 1932, and dissented from the decision against the white primaries in Texas that year. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s failed attempt at “court packing” in 1937, Butler was one of the conservative minority.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.