Chief Justice William H. Taft Appoints Judge Jacob Trieber, the First Jew to Sit on the Federal Bench, to Hear An Antitrust Case

Jacob Trieber was the first Jew to serve as a federal judge in the United States, receiving his appointment from President McKinley. Serving from 1900 to 1927 as judge for the U.S. Circuit Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, he issued nationally important rulings on controversies that included antitrust cases (it was he who originally upheld the constitutionality of the Clayton Act), railroad litigation, prohibition cases, and mail fraud; some of his rulings, such as those regarding civil rights and wildlife conservation, were landmark decisions that have implications today. His broad, pro-civil rights  interpretation of the constitutional guarantees of the Thirteenth Amendment, originally overturned by the post-Reconstruction U.S. Supreme Court, was validated sixty-five years later in a landmark 1968 equal opportunity case. Trieber was often called upon to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals when that court’s workload became heavy and an additional judge was needed. He heard over 350 Appeals Court cases and wrote the opinions for many of them. He was a particular favorite of Chief Justice William H. Taft,. who engaged in a substantial correspondence with him.

In June 1927, Chief Justice William H. Taft appointed him to preside over a pending restraint of trade case involving the Journeymen Stone Cutters in New York. Trieber accepted the assignment and started the trial. However, on September 17, 1927, before it could be completed, he died at age 74.

Document Signed as Chief Justice, Washington, June 4, 1927, being the very appointment referenced above. “...The Senior Circuit Judge of the Eighth Circuit having consented to the designation and assignment of the Hon. Jacob Treiber, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas in the Eighth Circuit, to hold the District Court for the Southern District of New York during the period beginning July 16, 1927 and ending September 17, 1967… Inasmuch as in my judgment the public interest so requires, and it appearing to be inpracticable to designate and assign a district judge of a circuit adjoining the Second Circuit for such service, I do hereby designate and assign the said Hon. Jacob Treiber to perform the duties...”