George Sutherland's distinction as Utah's only U.S. Supreme Court justice capped a long and distinguished legal and political career. Born on 25 March 1862 in England, he immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1863. By the 1870s, although disaffiliated from the Mormon Church, the family had settled in Utah. From 1879 to 1881 Sutherland attended Brigham Young Academy and absorbed the Social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer as well as a reverence for the Constitution from Academy president Karl Maeser--both were ideas that would shape his life.
In 1883 Sutherland had completed one term at the University of Michigan Law School and qualified for the Michigan bar. That summer he returned to Utah and married Rosamund Lee. They had three children--Emma (born 1884), Philip (born 1886), and Edith (born 1888)--whom he supported by practicing law in Utah. In 1894 he helped to organize the Utah State Bar Association.