In 1922, English-born George Sutherland was nominated to serve on the US Supreme Court. To date, he is the only Utahn to ever hold the position.
In 1862, George Sutherland, Utah’s only U. S. Supreme Court justice to date, was born in Buckinghamshire, England. His parents, who converted to Mormonism the same year he was born, eventually moved to Utah and settled in Springville. Shortly after, the family left the LDS Church, though Sutherland still attended Brigham Young Academy in Provo and studied under Mormon scholar Karl Maeser.
After finishing school in Provo, Sutherland moved to Michigan where he attended one term of law school and became a licensed attorney. Shortly after graduating from the University of Michigan, however, he moved back to Utah, got married, and opened up a law practice with his father. One of the founders of the Utah Bar Association, Sutherland became known for defending Mormons indicted under federal anti-polygamy statutes. Soon he found himself elected to the Utah State House of Representatives, then the US House, and finally the US Senate.
When Sutherland was finally defeated for a third term in the Senate, he opened a law practice in Washington, DC. Five years later President Warren Harding named him to the US Supreme Court where he became known for his staunchly conservative stance on social issues and struck down provisions of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Retiring in 1938, Sutherland died four years later in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Image: The United States Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., 1932, L to R: Judges Owen J. Roberts, Pierce Butler, Louis D. Brandeis, Willis Van Devanter, Chief Justice Evans Hughes, George Sutherland, Harlan Fiske Stone, Benjamin N. Cardozo. Photographer: Erich Salomon, gelatin silver print, 8164.46, collection of the National Museum of American History.
See Nancy J. Taniguchi’s entry on George Sutherland in the online Utah History Encyclopedia; and W. Paul Reeve’s article on Sutherland, originally published in the January 1993 issue of the History Blazer, which can now be found at Utah History To Go website; also see Joel Francis Paschal, Mr. Justice Sutherland: A Man Against the State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951).