Traft, Frankfurter, and the First Presidential For-Cause Removal

Aditya Banzai*

In the fall of 1912—while one of the most consequential presidential campaigns in United States history raged around them — William Howard Taft, Felix Frankfurter, and a handful of officials within the federal government initiated a process to remove two members of the Board of General Appraisers (“Board”) for inefficiency, neglect of duty, and malfeasance in office. The process culminated in President Taft’s for-cause dismissal of the two members, Thaddeus Sharretts and Roy Chamberlain, on the very last day that he served as President, after he received a report recommending their firing from a “committee of inquiry” that included Frankfurter.

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* Associate Professor, University of Virginia School of Law. For helpful comments and encouragement, I owe thanks to Divya Bamzai, Emily Blair, Kate Boudouris, John Duffy, John Harrison, Tom Nachbar, Caleb Nelson, Sai Prakash, George Rutherglen, and the editors of the University of Richmond Law Review. All errors are my own. This article is adapted from a talk given at the University of Richmond Law Review Symposium: Defining the Constitution’s President Through Legal & Political Conflict (Oct. 27, 2017).

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