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George H. Clark

George H. Clark’s four-month tenure on the Supreme Court of Ohio represented his only service in public office.

Clark was born in Canton on Oct. 18, 1872 to James J. and Ada Schlabach Clark. Clark enrolled at the University of Cincinnati where he earned a bachelor of laws degree in 1894. He passed the Ohio bar exam in 1895 and returned to Canton to join his father, uncle and a future judge in the law firm of Clark, Ambler & Clark.

On May 1, 1906, President Roosevelt appointed Clark postmaster of the Canton Post Office. He held the office through the Roosevelt and William Howard Taft administrations and resigned in 1913 following the inauguration of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Clark returned to private practice in Canton with his father and, in 1916 Herbert E. Hunker joined George Clark in the law practice. Beginning in April 1917 and throughout World War I, Clark managed the Selective Service Board for the northern district of Stark County.

In 1919, Clark became head of the State Republican Advisory Committee and, in 1920, became head of the Ohio Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, which was responsible for directing the party’s statewide campaigns. His efforts were an overwhelming success, as Sen. Warren G. Harding easily carried Ohio and Republicans swept to victories in all statewide races, the vast majority of county races and won large majorities in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly.

On Aug. 7, 1922, Ohio Gov. Harry L. Davis appointed Clark to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court of Ohio. Under Ohio’s election laws, Clark was obliged to stand for election at the next general election in November 1922 to complete the final two months of Justice James G. Johnson’s term. Clark ran unopposed as a write-in candidate and was elected. Clark did not campaign for or hold public office after he left the Supreme Court at the end of December 1922.

Clark’s brief term on the Supreme Court saw him prepare four majority opinions that appear in Volume 106 of Ohio State Reports. One opinion in 1922 that has been cited since its announcement dealt with two cases, ex parte Company and ex parte Irvin. Martha Company was arrested by Akron police on the charge of maintaining a home for prostitution. Irene Irvin also was arrested by Akron police and charged with soliciting for prostitution. Both women were held at the Women’s Detention Home for the City of Akron and both posted bond for release from the home, but the matron of the home refused to honor the bond and release them. Criminal charges against Martha Company were dismissed by the Akron Municipal Court and Irene Irvin was found innocent at a jury trial. Neither woman was released from Women’s Detention Home, however. Their writs of habeas corpus were refused by the Supreme Court and the women were ordered to be returned to the Akron Women’s Detention Home. The Court ruled that local ordinances allowing for quarantining people to protect the public health did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In January 1923, Justice Clark returned to Canton and resumed his law practice. According to news stories appearing in the Canton Repository at his death in July 1943 and his obituary that appeared in volume 142 of Ohio State Reports, Justice Clark lost interest in his law practice and politics following the sudden death of his law partner in July 1925. He retired to his farm outside Waynesburg and rarely appeared in a courtroom.

Clark married Harriet Crum in Canton on Aug. 15, 1900 and the couple raised two sons. He was an avid reader and book collector and through the years made donations from his collection to the Canton Public Library. Another of his pleasures later in his life was to travel to Princeton to visit his son, Thomas C. Clark, a professor at Princeton, and to attend classes.

In 1941, at his son’s 15th year reunion, Clark was made an honorary member of the Class of 1926. Clark also was an active member of the Canton Chamber of Commerce and Canton’s Associated Charities, a predecessor to the United Way. Clark died July 11, 1943 after a lengthy illness. Burial was in Canton’s Westlawn Cemetery.

William Howard Taft

b. Oct. 18, 1872

d. July 11, 1943

88th Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio

Aug 10, 1922
to Dec 31, 1922

See All Justices

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