Vanderbilt Law Review


Linda C. Gugin

First Page



Sherman Minton was not a great U.S. Supreme Court Justice, but he was far better than the image that scholars have created for him would indicate. Although there are exceptions, scholars generally consider Minton to have been an ineffective Justice who was put on the bench only because he was a crony of President Harry Truman. Indeed, the scholars who periodically provide a list of the "greatest" and "worst" Justices inevitably relegate Minton to the "worst" category. For example, Bernard Schwartz, who classified Minton as one of the ten worst Justices, said Minton "was below mediocrity as a Justice. His opinions, relatively few for his tenure, are less than third- rate, characterized by their cavalier approach to complicated issues."

This Article attempts to provide a fairer and more informed assessment of Minton's tenure as a Supreme Court Justice. It first will explore the shortcomings of judicial ranking schemes and then illustrate how the biases in these schemes have resulted in an unfair Professor of Political Science at Indiana University Southeast.