Stanley Forman Reed

Historical marker #1839 in Maysville (Mason County) is located at the summer home of Stanley Forman Reed, who served as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for nineteen years. 

Stanley F. Reed was born in Minerva, Kentucky, on December 31, 1884. At the age of 10, Reed and his family moved to Maysville, where his father practiced medicine, and resided in a home known as Phillips’ Folly, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Reed graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1902 and Yale University in 1906, receiving a bachelor’s degree from both universities. He studied law at the University of Virginia and Columbia University but did not receive his law degree. 

In 1910, Reed was admitted to the Kentucky Bar and established a legal practice in Maysville, where he practiced law from 1910 to 1917. He also served in the Kentucky General Assembly for four years. Reed served in the United States Army during World War I and returned to practicing law following his service.  

Two major clients of Reed were the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative. Through his work with the latter, Reed became known to President Herbert Hoover. President Hoover named him general counsel for the Federal Farm Board, which resold farm surpluses overseas. In 1932, he became general counsel to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.  

When Franklin Roosevelt became president, he appointed Reed as special counsel to defend his policy lowering the gold content of the dollar. Due to his success in this role, Roosevelt appointed Reed as solicitor general where he defended the legality of other New Deal legislation. In January 1938, Roosevelt appointed Reed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice, a post which he held until he retired in 1957. Once on the court, Reed developed a reputation as an independent. Nonetheless, he joined in the unanimous decision to overturn segregated schools in Brown v. Board of Education. 

Following his retirement from the Supreme Court, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Reed to chair the newly formed the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Because he was still subject to call as federal judge, Reed soon resigned the post. For several years, Reed argued cases before the Court of Claims and the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Reed died on April 2, 1980, and is buried in Maysville.  

A collection of Reed’s personal and official papers, including his Supreme Court papers, are housed at the University of Kentucky.  

This marker was dedicated on April 5, 1989. It reads: 

This Mason Co. native was Associate Justice of U.S. Supreme Court from 1938 to 1957. Served in Ky. General Assembly, 1912-16. Under Hoover and Roosevelt, Reed helped rescue nation from the Depression, as General Counsel of Federal Farm Board and as Solicitor Gen. for New Deal programs. Appointed to Supreme Ct. by Roosevelt. Retired, 1957. Died, New York; buried in Maysville.