Legacy of Service – George Sutherland

George Sutherland

george_sutherland_photo.jpgGeorge Sutherland was born in England in 1862. His family immigrated to Utah the next year.  In 1881 he graduated from Brigham Young Academy, and then passed the bar after studying for a year at University of Michigan School of Law.  At first he practiced in Provo with his  father, and then partnered with Samuel R. Thurman in 1886, to form Thurman & Sutherland.  William King joined the firm two years later.

  • Justice George Sutherland
  • Utah State Senate 1896-1900
  • United States Congress 1901-1903
  • United States Senate 1905-1917
  • United States Supreme Court 1922-1938
  • Justice George Sutherland’s legacy is a lifetime of service to the citizens of the state of Utah, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and he is the only Utahn to serve on the United States Supreme Court.  His humility and integrity in public service is unsurpassed.
  • George Sutherland immigrated from England to Utah in 1863, when he was just a year old.  The Sutherlands lived in Springville, Tintic, Provo, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Sutherland graduated from Brigham Young Academy in 1881 and attended the University of Michigan Law School.
  • As a young lawyer, Sutherland dove into public service and politics.  Through the cases and his general character, he earned the respect with the LDS Community and at the same time received the political support of the non-LDS community.
  • Sutherland helped form the Utah Bar Association in 1895.
  • In 1896, he was elected to Utah State Senate, where he chaired the Judiciary Committee, which drafted the first Utah Judicial and Penal Codes.
  • Sutherland proposed the state’s first State Worker’s Compensation Statute and laws granting eminent domain to miners and irrigators.
  • In 1900, he was elected to Utah’s only seat in the United States Congress.
  • In the United States Congress he was instrumental in passing the Reclamation Act.
  • Sutherland was elected by the State Legislature as the United States Senator in 1905 where he served two terms.
  • Through his legal ability, affability and hard work Sutherland accomplished much regarding women’s suffrage, workers’ compensation, reclamation, Indian affairs, and foreign policy.  He was the driving force behind the Federal Employer Liability Act, which created a worker’s compensation system.
  • Sutherland’s Judiciary Committee rewrote the United States criminal and judicial codes, “a monumental task’ according to Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes of the United States Supreme Court.
  • In 1915, Sutherland sponsored the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote and exerted every effort to assure its passage to the United States Constitution.
  • In 1917, Sutherland was elected President of the American Bar Association.
  • On September 5, 1922, President Harding nominated Sutherland for an open seat on the United States Supreme Court, and the Senate unanimously confirmed him the same day.
  • He was leading conservative Justice on the court between 1922 and 1938.  He was best known for his opinions concerning criminal procedure, land use and zoning, the power of the executive branch, and various constitutional issues.
  • Justice Sutherland retired in 1938 and died in 1942.

“Be vigilant caretaker of your character, and then focus on career, family and church.” – Justice George Sutherland

George Sutherland Biography (LINK TO PDF)


On October 15, 2011, over two hundred Utah lawyers, judges and community leaders gathered at Little America Hotel to celebrate the legacy of Justice George Sutherland.  Snow, Christensen & Martineau, which traces its roots to Justice Sutherland and his law partner Sam Thurman, sponsored the event as a way to commemorate the firm’s 125th birthday.  The evening culminated in the presentation of a bust of Sutherland commissioned by Snow, Christensen & Martineau to Judge Dee Benson, U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.  Upon completion of the federal courthouse expansion, the bust will be displayed at the courthouse to memorialize the achievements and legacy of Utah’s highest jurist.

Sutherland’s Legacy

Publications & Speeches

George Sutherland Speeches

George Sutherland Publication, Columbia University Press, 1919

Biographical Articles

Photos & Videos