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Presidential Campaigns in U.S. History: Charles E. Hughes

1916 Election Results

Candidate Party Electoral Vote Popular Vote Percentage
Woodrow Wilson Democratic 277 9,126,868 49.20%
Charles Evans Hughes Republican 254 8,548,728 46.10%

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice, 1910-1916

Hughes wrote the Court's opinion in Bailey v. Alabama (1910), which held unconstitutional an Alabama statute that permitted peonage. He dissented in Coppage v. Kansas, in which the Court held unconstitutional a law prohibiting an employer from conditioning employment on an employee's promise not to join a union (the yellow-dog contract). In 1916, Hughes resigned from the Court to accept the Republican nomination as its presidential candidate.

Supreme Court Chief Justice, 1930-1941

President Herbert Hoover nominated Hughes to the Court as Chief Justice. Hughes was Chief Justice of a fractious, controversial Court. Hughes was a progressive on issues of race, and during the Great Depression, was often supportive of New Deal and state New Deal-type legislation. But he and the other members of the Court enraged FDR when the Court unanimously held that several New Deal acts were unconstitutional on May 27, 1935. In several other cases, Hughes found himself in a minority of four, with the so-called "Four Horsemen" (Pierce Butler, James McReynolds, George Sutherland, and Willis Van Devanter) and Owen J. Roberts in the majority. After FDR was re-elected in 1936, he turned to "solving" the problem of a recalcitrant Court by urging Congress to "reorganize" the Supreme Court by adding one justice for every justice who had reached the age of 70 and who had not resigned. This plan, which FDR's opponents dubbed a "court-packing" plan, was suggested disingenuously by FDR as necessary for the Court to keep up with its work.


Hughes Campaigning (silent film)

Political Cartoon of the Campaign

Anti Wilson Cartoon