In 1928, Charles Evans Hughes – who was at the time a former
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, later to become its Chief Justice – wrote about three instances in which the Court “suffered severely from self-inflicted wounds.” The bad news is that the Court didn’t stop at just three: there were more disastrous decisions before 1928 than Hughes acknowledged, and there have been more since. The good news is that one of those judicial disasters, inflicted back in 1944, has finally been formally disavowed. But why was that decision addressed by the Court 74 years after it was first handed down? And what significance does it have for any of us now?