Cushing, William

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Cushing, William

William Cushing. U.S. SUPREME COURT
William Cushing.

William Cushing was born March 1, 1732. He graduated from Harvard College in 1751, and received an honorary master of arts degree from Yale University in 1753 and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Harvard University in 1785.

After his Admission to the Bar in 1755, Cushing began his judicial career in Lincoln County, Massachusetts (now a part of Maine), as judge for the Probate Court of that county during 1760 and 1761. In 1772, he served as a justice for the Massachusetts Superior Court, followed by a term as chief justice of that court from 1777 to 1789.

"Where [states' rights have] been abridged, it was thought necessary for the greater, indispensable good of the whole."
—William Cushing

In 1779, Cushing was a member of the first Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. In 1788, he acted as vice president at the Massachusetts Convention, a convention that endorsed the U.S. Constitution. Cushing returned to the bench in 1789 as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, rendering decisions until 1810.

In addition to his legal and judicial career, Cushing was active in the establishment of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a fellow of that institution from 1780 to 1810.

Cushing died September 13, 1810, in Scituate, Massachusetts.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Perhaps out of desperation, Washington at last resorted to seniority: the aged and unwell William Cushing may not have been the perfect candidate for the job, but at least Washington knew that he would be in town for the Supreme Court's impending session.
Although it is impossible to arrive at a definitive answer, the problem may have lain with the presence of William Cushing. As the senior Associate Justice, Cushing would have been the person charged with the responsibility of delivering an opinion of the Court in Ellsworth's absence.
13, 1789), in 1 DHSC, supra note 2, at 659, 659 (supposing Rutledge or Jay would be appointed); Letter from Samuel Barrett to William Cushing (June 20, 1789), in 1 DHSC, supra note 2, at 626, 626 (assuming Cushing would be appointed); Letter from Benjamin Rush to John Adams (Apr.
(68) Letter from William Cushing to George Washington (Feb.
19, 1794), in 2 DHSC, supra note 2, at 447, 447-48 (noting that because Jay was about to depart, Paterson would complete the circuit that Jay was riding); Letter from James Wilson to William Cushing (Apr.
See, e.g., Letter from James Iredell to John Jay, William Cushing, & James Wilson (Feb.
(36) With just weeks before the next sitting, and having lacked a properly confirmed, sitting Chief Justice for nearly two years, Washington nominated then-Associate Justice William Cushing. (37) The Senate confirmed Cushing the next day, but he resigned his commission one week afterward, on health and age grounds, after serving as Chief Justice for perhaps one dinner party.
William Cushing served twelve years on Massachusetts' highest court, first as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, then as its chief justice, then as chief justice of the successor Supreme Judicial Court.
Some notable figures - Sam Adams, William Cushing, Nathaniel Gorham, James Bowdoin and others - favored a yes vote.
Although it is not clear that John Adams, who wrote the constitution, meant to outlaw slavery, a series of legal actions, culminating in the three cases collectively known as the Quock Walker case, led to a momentous decision by Chief Justice William Cushing of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.