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In June of 1950 the Supreme Court was winding to the end of another judicial year. In terms of judicial product, the October Term, 1949, had not been very prepossessing. In part this may have been the luck of the docket. In part it may have reflected the fact that the Court was not wholly comfortable with itself. Two of the justices were newcomers–replacements for two colleagues, Wiley B. Rutledge and Frank Murphy, who had died almost simultaneously, and with jarring suddenness, the summer before. The newcomers were working hard to master their new responsibilities and become useful members of an intricate and unique enterprise. But it would take them time-as it had taken all their predecessors, back to 1790, time-to learn the meanings and the methods of the enterprise, and to define their individual roles in forwarding the collective tasks. So the Court that June faced the new decade with some uncertainty.

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