Truman generally had cause to be satisfied with his appointee’s performance on the Court. Although Burton joined in the majority decision that delivered a constitutional rebuke to President Truman’s attempt to seize steel mills during the Korean War in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), he generally followed the kind of moderately conservative course that might have been expected from his appointment. He allied himself in the main with justices who favored judicial restraint and against those—such as Hugo L. Black, William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, and Wiley B. Rutledge—who practiced greater judicial activism. He tended to uphold exercises of power Harold Hitz Burton by federal and state governments, in, for example, areas such as criminal law and national security', including government treatment of individuals who belonged to Communist organizations.
On die racial questions that became prominent during his tenure, Justice Burton was generally a solid opponent of segregation. The exception was his lone dissent in Mortem v. Virginia (1946), which struck down a Virginia law requiring blacks to sit in the back of buses traveling across state lines. By the beginning of the next decade, however, Burton sided with majorities tliat waged increasing war against racially discriminatory laws. In 1950 he joined the Court’s decisions striking down attempts to consign African Americans to allegedly “separate but equal”—but obviously inferior—higher education opportunities in Sweatt v. Painter (1950) and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (1950). That same year he wrote die Court’s opinion in Henderson v. United States f 1950), declaring that a state law requiring a partition between blacks and whites in railroad dining facilities violated Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution’s commerce clause. Four years later Burton joined the Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), declaring segregation in public schools a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Party affiliation: Republican Party