Henry Billings Brown (Supreme Court Justice)

Henry Billings Brown

Henry Billings Brown was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 29 December 1890 to 28 May 1906. A respected lawyer and U.S. District Judge in Detroit, Michigan, before ascending to the high court, Brown authored hundreds of opinions in his 31 years as a federal judge, including the majority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the legality of racial segregation in public transportation and implicitly provided approval for the system of Jim Crow laws until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Born: March 2, 1836, Lee, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: September 4, 1913 (aged 77), Bronxville, New York, U.S.
Political party: Republican
Education: Yale University, Harvard University
Preceded by: Samuel Freeman Miller
Succeeded by: William Henry Moody

About Henry Billings Brown

Served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1890 to 1906.

Before Fame

He graduated from Yale College in 1856.


He was best known for authoring the 1896 decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which ruled that racial segregation in public facilities was constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine.

Family Life

He married Caroline Pitts in 1864.


He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Benjamin Harrison.

Information related to Henry Billings Brown

  • Wayne State University people
  • United States federal judges appointed by Benjamin Harrison
  • Judges of the United States circuit courts
  • United States federal judges appointed by Ulysses S. Grant
  • Burials at Elmwood Cemetery (Detroit, Michigan)
  • Judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • University of Michigan Law School faculty
  • Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Georgetown University Law Center faculty
  • Lawyers from Detroit
  • Wayne State University faculty
  • Washington, D.C. Republicans
  • Michigan lawyers
  • American Congregationalists
  • 19th-century American judges

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