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Supreme Court Justice Byron White Signed Letter

1978 Letter Mentions President Calvin Coolidge

Written to Notorious D. C. Republican

In this October 8, 1978 letter on Supreme Court letterhead, Justice Byron White acknowledges receipt of "the word from Calvin Coolidge" from Carl L. Shipley of Washington, D.C.  Byron White was appointed to the Supreme Court by President John F. Kennedy after a career as a famous football star and Deputy Attorney General under Robert Kennedy. Calvin Coolidge was a considerably more conservative President than JFK who was known for his terse witticisms and one of those was probably what he received from Shipley.

Despite being appointed by Democrat John F. Kennedy, White had a mind of his own and although voting with the Warren Court for a vast array of new Constitutional rights, he opposed the theory of "substantive due process" which the Court used to justify all manner of judge-made social policies not anchored in the Constitution. He thus was one of the dissenters in the Roe v. Wade (1973) abortion decision and wrote the majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), which upheld Georgia's anti-sodomy law against a "substantive due process" attack. Although supporting a form of affirmative action in the famous Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case of 1978, he later voted to strike down an affirmative action plan regarding state contracts in Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989).

Shipley, the person Justice White wrote this letter to, was a well known District lawyer, Republican delegate to Republican National Convention in 1960 and 1964 and Republican chairman for the District from 1958 to 1968. As the Washington Post noted in his obituary, Mr. Shipley tended to shoot from the hip at times, making politically incorrect comments such as this made in 1967 in regard to some residents of Washington, D.C.: "There are people who just won't work, and we should get rid of them so they won't be standing around on corners and holding up liquor stores." In any case, Justice White who clearly knew Mr. Shipley's reputation didn't mind corresponding with this conservative and controversial lawyer as shown by this 1978 letter.

Both liberal and conservative, the enigma of Bryon White is demonstrated in part by this 1978 letter.

Price: $60/SOLD

See also a signed official Supreme Court picture of Justice White