Significance: During his brief time on the Supreme Court, Moore issued a single opinion that was politically controversial.
Moore was educated in Boston and began practicing law in 1755. After serving as a military officer in the American Revolution, he was appointed state attorney general for North Carolina in 1782. He participated in Bayard v. Singleton (1787), a North Carolina case that was the first in which a court declared a law unconstitutional. This case provided a precedent for the Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803), which established the doctrine of judicial review. After resigning his position in 1791, Moore returned to law practice, and served as a judge in the state superior court in 1798. President John Adams nominated him to the Supreme Court on December 4, 1799. He was confirmed by the Senate on December 10, and took office on April 21, 1800. Ill health caused him to retire from the Supreme Court on January 26, 1804. Moore's only written opinion while on the Court was issued in Bas v. Tingy (1800), a case involving a U.S. ship captured by the French. Moore held that a “limited partial war” existed with France, a decision that was welcomed by the Federalist Party but denounced by the Democratic-Republican Party. A delay in traveling prevented him from participating in Marbury.