- Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
- (1856-1941)The son of Austrian immigrants, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was born in Louisville, Kentucky. After traveling in Europe and studying in Dresden, Germany, Brandeis returned to the United States in 1875 and entered Harvard Law School. He graduated in 1877 with the highest grades ever achieved. Brandeis practiced law briefly in St. Louis and then returned to Boston. He gradually developed a reputation as a progressive lawyer who favored equal protection of trade unions in their relations with business and who opposed monopoly. In the landmark case of Muller v. Oregon (1908), Brandeis used statistical and other information rather than legal precedent to establish that long hours of work were potentially harmful to women and persuaded the Supreme Court to uphold Oregon’s laws limiting the hours of work for females. He also supported the prohibition of child labor and laws introducing unemployment and old-age insurance. He backed the candidacy of Woodrow Wilson, who, in turn, appointed Brandeis to the Supreme Court in 1916.As a Supreme Court justice, Brandeis argued for the qualification on the principle of “clear and present danger” established by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in upholding wartime espionage legislation in Schenck v. United States (1919), arguing in 1920 and 1927 that the danger had to be “serious” and “imminent.” In 1928 he argued that wiretapping was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. He was sympathetic to much of the New Deal but opposed what he saw as excessive centralization. Although with Benjamin Cardozo and Harlan Stone Brandeis was regarded as one of the “liberal” bloc, he voted with the rest of the Court on “Black Monday” to declare the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. The oldest justice at the time, Brandeis was personally offended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “court packing” proposals. In the end, he was forced to retire because of ill health in 1939. Brandeis University was named after him.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.