On this day in 1790: George Washington appoints James Iredell of Edenton to the U.S. Supreme Court. Among Iredell’s attributes, says Washington, is that “he is of a State of some importance in the Union that has given no character to a federal office.”
The English-born Iredell, who proves to be one of the court’s sharpest minds, serves until his death in 1799.
North Carolina’s only other Supreme Court justice will be Alfred Moore of New Hanover County, appointed by John Adams in 1800.
“Serving as North Carolina’s attorney general in 1780, [James] Iredell complained to his wife about the work of North Carolina’s lawmakers, calling it ‘the vilest collection of trash ever formed by a legislative body.’ ”
— From “The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution” by Barry Friedman (2009)