Supreme Court of the United States
Chase Court
Mathew Brady, Portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, officer of the United States government (1860–1865).jpg
December 15, 1864 – May 7, 1873
(8 years, 143 days)
SeatOld Senate Chamber
Washington, D.C.
No. of positions10 (1864-1866)
8 (1866-1869)
9 (1869-1873)
Chase Court decisions
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

The Chase Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1864 to 1873, when Salmon P. Chase served as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States. Chase succeeded Roger Taney as Chief Justice after the latter's death. Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, Chase served as Chief Justice until his death, at which point Morrison Waite was nominated and confirmed as his successor.

The Chase Court presided over the end of the Civil War and much of the Reconstruction Era. Chase was a complete change from the pro-slavery Taney; one of his first acts as Chief Justice was to admit John Rock as the first African-American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court.[1]

During Chase's chief-justiceship, Congress passed the Habeas Corpus Act 1867, giving the Court the ability to issue writs of habeas corpus for defendants tried by state courts. The Chase Court interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment for the first time, and its narrow reading of the Amendment would be adopted by subsequent courts.[2] As Chief Justice, Chase presided over the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. He also pursued the presidency twice while in office; he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1868 and the Liberal Republican nomination in 1872.


See also: List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Chase Court began when President Abraham Lincoln appointed Salmon Chase to replace Chief Justice Roger Taney, who died in 1864. The Chase Court commenced with Chase and nine Associate Justices: James Moore Wayne, John Catron, Samuel Nelson, Robert Cooper Grier, Nathan Clifford, Noah Haynes Swayne, Samuel Freeman Miller, David Davis, Stephen Johnson Field.

During Chase's tenure, Congress passed two laws setting the size of the Supreme Court, partly to prevent President Johnson from appointing Supreme Court justices. The Judicial Circuits Act of 1866 provided for the elimination of three seats (to take effect as sitting justices left the court), which would reduce the size of the court from ten justices to seven. Catron died in 1865, and he had not been replaced when the Judicial Circuits Act was passed, so his seat was abolished upon passage of the act. Wayne died in 1867, leading to the abolition of his seat. However, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1869, setting the size of the court at nine justices and creating a new seat. In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed William Strong to replace Grier, and Joseph P. Bradley to fill the newly created seat. Bradley was nominated after the Senate rejected Grant's nomination of Ebenezer R. Hoar; the Senate had also confirmed Edwin Stanton's nomination for the seat, but Stanton died before taking office. Nelson retired in 1872, and Grant appointed Ward Hunt to succeed him.


Note: + denotes new seat; denotes abolished seat

Bar key:
  Jackson appointee   Tyler appointee   Polk appointee   Buchanan appointee   Lincoln appointee   Grant appointee

Other branches

Presidents during this court included Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant. Congresses during this court included 38th through the 43rd United States Congresses.

Rulings of the Court

See also: List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Chase Court and Criminal law in the Chase Court

Notable rulings of the Chase Court include:


  1. ^ "The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson: Salmon Portland Chase". Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  2. ^ Lurie, Jonathan (2004). The Chase Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. ABC-CLIO. pp. 87–89. ISBN 9781576078211. Retrieved 9 March 2016.

Further reading