Today's Birthdays: November 13

November 13

Justice Louis Brandeis

1856–1941, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brandeis was born in Louisville, KY, graduated from Harvard law school in 1877, and served on the Supreme Court from 1916-1939. A successful Boston lawyer (1879-1916), Brandeis distinguished himself by investigating insurance practices and by establishing (1907) Massachusetts savings-bank insurance. After defending (1900-07) the public interest in Boston utility cases, he served (1907-14) as counsel for the people in proceedings involving the constitutionality of wages and hours laws in Oregon, Illinois, Ohio, and California. In Muller v. Oregon (1908) he persuaded the U.S.Supreme Court that minimum-hours legislation for women was reasonable-and not unconstitutional-with a brief primarily consisting of statistical, sociological, economic, and physiological information. This "Brandeis brief," as it came to be called, revolutionized the practice of law. He opposed (1907-13) the monopoly of transportation in New England and successfully argued (1910-14) before the Interstate Commerce Commission against railroad-rate increases. In 1910 as one of the counsel in the congressional investigation of Richard A. Ballinger, he exposed the anticonservationist views of President Taft's Secretary of the Interior. As an arbitrator (1910) of a strike of New York garment workers (mostly Jewish), he became acutely aware of Jewish problems and afterward was a leader of the Zionist movement. An enemy of industrial and financial monopoly, he formulated the economic doctrine of the New Freedom that Woodrow Wilson adopted in his 1912 presidential campaign. Over the protests of the vested interests that Brandeis had alienated as "people's attorney," Wilson appointed (1916) him to the U.S. Supreme Court although opposition was voiced by anti-Semites and certain business interests. Long an advocate of social and economic reforms, he maintained a position of judicial liberalism on the bench. With Oliver Wendell Holmes, he often dissented from the majority. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt became (1933) President, Brandeis was one of the few justices who voted to uphold most of Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. He retired from the bench in 1939. Brandeis Univ. is named after him. He wrote Other People's Money (1914) and Business, a Profession (1914). For selections of his writings, see Alfred Lief, ed., The Social and Economic Views of Mr. Justice Brandeis (1930); O. K. Fraenkel, ed., The Curse of Bigness (1935); Solomon Goldman, ed., The Words of Justice Brandeis (1953).

Bibliography:See his letters, ed. by M. I. Urofsky and D. W. Levy (1971); biography by A. T. Mason (1946, repr. 1956); studies by Melvin I. Urofsky (1971, repr. 1981), Phillippa Strum (1984), and Nelson L. Dawson, ed. (1989); A. M. Bickel, The Unpublished Opinions of Mr. Justice Brandeis (1957).


Justice Louis Brandeis

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