Introduction

From 1789 to the present, there have been 111 Justices of the United States Supreme Court, 40 of the justices have been Freemasons. This means about one-third of the Supreme Court Justices were Masons, a far larger proportion than in the general population.

Supreme Court Justices Who Were Freemasons

Two Supreme Court Justices were Grand Masters of Virginia. John Blair, Jr., was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1789 to 1796. Previously he was Grand Master of Virginia from 1778 to 1784. John Marshall, the greatest Chief Justice of the United States, was in that position from 1801 to 1835. He was also Grand Master of Virginia, from 1793-1795.

Another Chief Justice who had a great impact on our country, Earl Warren, served from 1953 to 1969. He was Grand Master of California 1935 to 1936. He was also Potentate of Aahmes Shrine, and a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason and an officer in two of the Scottish Rite bodies, in Oakland, California.

William H. Taft became a Mason "at sight" in 1909, while he was President of the United States and before he became Chief Justice. Although he did not become a Mason in the traditional way, it is reported that he made many visits to Lodge meetings, participated in Masonic ceremonies, and attended meetings of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association.

Robert Trimble, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1826 to 1828, was Master of his lodge, Union #16 in Paris, Kentucky. Henry Baldwin, Associate Justice from 1830 to 1844, was Master of Lodge #45 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1805. Joseph R. Lamar, Associate Justice from 1910 to 1916, was Senior Warden of Webb Lodge #166 in Augusta, Georgia, in 1885.

Many of the Supreme Court Justices who were Freemasons also were members of their local Royal Arch Chapters, Cryptic or Royal and Select Master Councils, Knight Templar Commanderies, Scottish Rite bodies, Shrines, and Grottoes.

Stanley Matthews, Associate Justice from 1881-1889, became a Mason in 1847.

William R. Denslow's book, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, identifies a total of 38 Supreme Court Justices who were Masons, often giving their lodges and the dates of their degrees. Allen E. Roberts' book, Masonic Trivia and Facts, says that Ronald E. Heaton compiled a list of 39 Supreme Court Justices who were Freemasons, and a 1940s study in the possession of MSA lists 34. Some of these sources list as Masons those who are not listed by others. If we rely on any of these sources for our list of Supreme Court Justices who were Freemasons, we get a total of 40.

The following chart lists the Supreme Court Justices who are identified by one or more sources as having been Freemasons.

     
Name
 
Dates of Service
John Jay
Chief Justice
1789-1795
John Rutledge
Chief Justice
1789-1791, 1795
William Cushing
 
1789-1810
John Blair, Jr.
 
1789-1796
William Paterson
 
1793-1806
Oliver Ellsworth
Chief Justice
1796-1800
John Marshall
Chief Justice
1801-1835
Thomas Todd
 
1807-1826
Joseph Story
 
1811-1845
Robert Trimble
 
1826-1828
John McLean
 
1829-1861
Henry Baldwin
1830-1844
John Catron
 
1837-1865
Samuel Nelson
 
1845-1872
Levi Woodbury
 
1845-1851
Noah H. Swayne
 
1862-1881
David Davis
 
1862-1877
Stephen J. Field
1863-1897
 
John M. Harlan
 
1877-1911
William B. Woods
 
1880-1887
Stanley Matthews
 
1881-1889
Samuel Blatchford
 
1882-1893
William H. Moody
 
1906-1910
Willis Van Devanter
 
1910-1937
Joseph R. Lamar
 
1910-1916
Mahlon Pitney
 
1912-1922
John H. Clarke
 
1916-1922
William H. Taft
Chief Justice
1921-1930
Hugo L. Black
 
1937-1971
Stanley F. Reed
 
1938-1957
William O. Douglas
 
1939-1975
James F. Byrnes
 
1941-1942
Robert H. Jackson
 
1941-1954
Wiley B. Rutledge
 
1943-1949
Harold H. Burton
 
1945-1958
Fred M. Vinson
Chief Justice
1946-1953
Tom C. Clark
 
1949-1967
Sherman Minton
 
1949-1956
Earl Warren
Chief Justice
1953-1969
Potter C. Stewart
 
1958-1981
Thurgood Marshall
 
1967-1991
 

Notes:

10,000 Famous Freemasons quotes evidence that John Jay was a Freemason, but says there is no proof. The MSA 1940s study also indicates Jay was a Mason, but says it has not yet been discovered in which lodge.

John Rutledge became Chief Justice while the Senate was not in session, and when they reconvened he was rejected. Still, he did serve for a time in that position. Masonic Trivia and Facts and The MSA 1940s study say he was a Mason, without identifying his lodge, but 10,000 Famous Freemasons does not list him.

William Cushing is listed in 10,000 Famous Freemason as having been a member of St. Andrew's Lodge in Boston. He was offered the post of Chief Justice but chose instead to continue as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Joseph Story is listed as a member of Philanthropic Lodge in Marblehead, Massachusetts, in 10,000 Famous Freemasons and the MSA 1940s study, but not in Masonic Trivia and Facts.

John McLean is listed in 10,000 Famous Freemasons as having been a member of Columbus Lodge #30 in Columbus, Ohio, but he is not listed in Masonic Trivia and Facts or in the The MSA 1940s study.

Levi Woodbury is listed as a Mason in Masonic Trivia and Facts, but is not listed in 10,000 Famous Freemasons or in the MSA 1940s study.

David Davis, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln's, is listed in 10,000 Famous Freemasons as having been buried with Masonic ceremonies in Bloomington, Illinois. He is not listed in the other sources as having been a Freemason.

Mahlon Pitney is listed in the MSA 1940s study as having been a member of Cincinnati Lodge #3 in Morristown, New Jersey, but he is not listed in 10,000 Famous Freemasons or in Masonic Trivia and Facts.

Thurgood Marshall is listed in 10,000 Famous Freemasons as having been a director and counselor or the Prince Hall Grand Master Conference, and a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason.