On Washington: Supreme Court Fight Rescues a Justice From Obscurity


Justice Rufus W. Peckham, back, second from left. He was nominated by President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, in 1895.

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WASHINGTON — There are the legal giants of the Supreme Court, justices such as John Marshall, Louis D. Brandeis and Earl Warren. Then there is Rufus W. Peckham.

“He is one of the pygmies of the court,” said Leon Friedman, a law professor at Hofstra University, about the justice most remembered — if he is remembered at all — as the author of the oft-maligned Lochner v. New York decision, a 1905 ruling that prevented the states from limiting the hours of overworked bakers.

Justice Peckham does have one distinguishing…

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