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Movember? You'll Never Beat These SCOTUS Facial Hair Legends

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By William Peacock, Esq. on November 03, 2014 8:48 AM

FindLaw, a part of Thomson Reuters, celebrates Movember because we are awesome. Last year in honor of Movember/No Shave November, we talked about how to survive the month in a professional environment. Trust us: It's worth the read.

Upon laying eyes on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s magnificent stache, however, I couldn't help but wonder: What other legendary Supreme Court facial hair was out there? Sure, today none of the justices consistently rock facial follicles, but what about the grand and glorious past?

We'll start with the notables, move to the complete index of SCOTUS mustaches and beards, and then conduct a poll for G.O.A.T. (not goatee, but rather the Greatest Of All Time):

Notable Supreme Court Beards

First Beard: Samuel Nelson

I was shocked, nay dismayed to discover that the first Supreme Court beard didn't appear until 1845. Not only that, but look at the damn thing: It is literally Ruth Bader Ginsburg's neck doily in neck beard form. It didn't get better with the second beard -- it was also a neck doily.

Most WTF Beard: Howell Edmunds Jackson

We named an entire category of beards (the "Neck Tube") after him, because whoa -- he literally has a tube of white hair sticking out of his chin. It looks like a photographic error on his Wikipedia portrait, but no, that's actually his chin hair.

Last Facial Hair: Thurgood Marshall (and arguably Clarence Thomas)

We're giving this one to Marshall, but only because Thomas goes back-and-forth between a faint mustache and nothing at all. (Thomas did, however, have a wicked thin-line goatee back in the day.)

Categorized Supreme Court Beards (Favorites in Italics)

The Chinstraps: Joseph McKenna, Samuel Blatchford, Donald Davis, Morrison Waite

All beard, no stache, a la Lincoln. The clear winner here is Waite, who is like the George Clooney of SCOTUS history. Blatchford, on the other hand, could barely grow a beard.

The Neck Tubes: Howell Edmunds Jackson, Noah Haynes Swayne, John Archibald Campbell, Samuel Nelson

There are no winners in this category. One shouldn't have a neck-goatee (with clean chin) or a tube of hair coming out of one's face. Still, if we had to pick a winner, it'd be the hipster known as Nelson. Not only was he into facial hair before it was cool on the Court, but if you rocked that fluffy sideburns/neck doily combo today, you'd definitely have a Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand.

Full Mane: George Sutherland, Stephen Johnson Field, William Burnham Woods, Stanley Matthews

Conversely, there is no easy winner here. I'm going with Woods, but only because I saw his photo and thought: Civil War General. And then, it turns out, he was. All of them have beards worthy of lumberjacks or home improvement shows.

Simple 'Stache: Melville Fuller, William Howard Taft, William R. Day, Horace Harmon Lurton, William Henry Moody, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Rufus Wheeler Peckham, Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas

This could be a post of its own, but we'll spare you that. Greatest 'stache in history? Truly, we were an office divided. Some appreciated Taft's neat-and-curly. Others preferred Holmes' full-and-sassy. But Fuller edged them out with pure fullness and girth.

The Goatees: Edward Terry Sanford, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II, Charles Evans Hughes

Talk about variations on a theme: Sanford is clean and trimmed. Hughes rocked a curly stache/goatee but often had thin sideburns (making him a wobbler, category-wise). But LQCL2? Winner. Hands down.

Honorable Mention (Sideburns): George Shiras, Jr., Horace Gray

This isn't even close. Shiras, who rocked everything but the stache and chin, takes this category due to sheer oddness and magnificence. Gray? Sorry, but I can barely see your mutton chops.

Poll: Pick the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.)

I went through over 100 judges' portraits to narrow down your choices. Now it's your turn:

We narrowed 'em down, now who is the SCOTUS facial follicle G.O.A.T.?
Morrison Waite
Samuel Nelson
William Burnham Woods
Melville Fuller
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II
George Shiras, Jr.
Other
Please Specify:
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