In fact, history remembers Clarke more for his resignation from the Court than for anything he did while he was a justice. In September 1922 he announced his retirement and explained to Justice Brandeis his reason for doing so:
I would die happier if I should do all that is possible to promote the entrance of our government into die League of Nations than if I continued to devote my time to determining whether a drunken Indian had been deprived of his land before he died or whether the digging of a ditch in Iowa was constitutional or not.
The latter part of his explanation suggests that Clarke lacked the temperament and patience necessary to continue the work of a Supreme Court justice, which involved not only celebrated cases raising issues of national importance but also a myriad of lesser disputes for which the Court was the final arbiter. Whatever his reasons, though, many observers found them insufficient. Former President Wilson, in particular, found no pleasure in Clarke’s resignation, even though it was to pursue a cause dear to Wilson himself: U.S. membership in the League of Nations. He would have rather had Clarke remain as a progressive influence on the Court.
Party affiliation: Democratic Party