William Howard Taft on SCOTUS - reputation?

This GD thread reminded me that William Howard Taft, in addition to being President, was also a Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

As a president, at least according to this interesting Wiki table summarizing presidents’ rankings, he seems to be considered pretty average, or just below.

How is he generally regarded as a jurist? According to Wikipedia (again), Taft really liked his time on SCOTUS. Is the feeling reciprocated by students of US legal history (or SCOTUS)?

This question may be of more than theoretical interest in a few years - it’s possible that Obama’s chances at succeeding Taft in the latter’s unique dual role might be enhanced, or hurt, depending on how history views Taft’s time there.

It probably depends on your rating standards. Taft was a strong chief justice, and administratively, he did a lot for the court. Taft is, for instance, the man responsible for the Supreme Court building. He also did a lot to reform court procedures, managed to convince Congress to reduce the number of mandatory appeals to the Supremes, lightening up their caseload, and so on.

That being said, the general views and decisions of the Taft court are different than today’s standards. The Taft court was generally hostile to regulation of business, and overturned laws that the current court wouldn’t think of overturning, like minimum wage and child labor laws.

There are two sides to the question. First, as Chief Justice of the United States, Taft stands pre-eminent, using his prestige and people management skills to build an efficient and coherent system in which he and his colleagues and the lower courts worked smoothly. Cite here.

As a justice, he was mid-level, a competent writer and molder of opinions but not noted for any famous, society-changing opinions. Wikipedia’s summary of his more notable opinions gives a feel for what he’s noted by legal scholars for.

I’ll thank you both now, but still hope that others will weigh in as well.

One of the more well-known cases today is the one giving baseball its anti-trust exemption, the Federal League case. Although since then the SCOTUS twice affirmed it, the feeling is generally the Taft court should have said it was subject to the Sherman Anti-Trust. But since SCOTUs has held Congress can pass a law revoking baseball’s anti-trust, it’s their problem.Federal Baseball Club v. National League - Wikipedia