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When Nine Justices Were "Equally Divided," Part II

Image result for golf

To review, in the case on Kansas' ratification of the Child Labor Law constitutional amendment, the Justices appear to have taken three distinct votes. All nine justices voted in each of the first two cases. In the third, on the issue of whether the Lt Gov. of a state constitutes a legislator in the sense contemplated in the US Constitution, the justices split evenly, presumably 4-4.

And, not to keep you in suspense beyond necessity, the missing justice was ... James McReynolds.

Always listed as one of the infamous "horsemen" of anti-New Deal jurisprudence whose vote was predictable. In this case his vote must definitionally have been the swing vote.

Coleman v. Miller was the last case to be decided in the term. The term has lasted too long for McReynolds' taste, and when he believed it had been decided (though the Is had not been dotted) he took off on his summer break. The other Justices decided that a third vote was necessary only after his departure, and apparently it would have been impractical to try to call him back, so they just called it a tie.

Neat mystery solved. The only final note I want to add is a sentimental bit of verse occasioned by the issue of child labor, one which sticks in my mind for no good reason:

The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.


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