Benjamin Nathan Cardozo

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Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan

(kärdō`zō), 1870–1938, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1932–38), b. New York City. Educated at Columbia Univ., he practiced law until he was elected (1913) to the New York supreme court. Cardozo was then appointed (1914) to the court of appeals, elected (1917) for a 14-year term, and elected (1927) chief judge of the court, which, largely through his influence, gained international fame. He was prominent in the efforts of the American Law Institute to restate and simplify the law, and he advocated a permanent agency to function between the courts and legislatures to aid in framing effective legislation. Of Sephardic background, he was active in a number of Jewish movements. He was appointed (1932) by President Herbert Hoover to the Supreme Court to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes. Cardozo was one of the foremost spokesmen on sociological jurisprudence, and his views on the relation of law to social change made him one of the most influential of U.S. judges. With Justices Louis D. Brandeis and Harlan F. Stone, he voted to uphold much early New Deal legislation, dissenting from the majority opinion. Cardozo expounded his philosophy of law and the judicial process in three classics of jurisprudence: The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921), The Growth of the Law (1924), and The Paradoxes of Legal Science (1928). He also wrote Law and Literature and Other Essays and Addresses (1931).


See the selection of his writings edited by M. E. Hall (1947); biographies by J. P. Pollard (1935, repr. 1970) and A. L. Kaufman (1998); studies by B. H. Levy (rev. ed. 1969) and W. C. Cunningham (1972).

Cardozo, Benjamin Nathan


Born May 24, 1870, in New York, N.Y.; died July 19, 1938, in Port Chester, N.Y. An American jurist, a representative of the school of sociological jurisprudence.

Cardozo graduated from Columbia University in 1889. After 1913 he was a judge in various high courts of the state of New York and then a justice of the US Supreme Court. He was known for his writings, which emphasized the role of the judge in originating law. Noting the necessity of a definite compromise between the stability of the law and social dynamics, Cardozo considered that such a situation gave a judge the right to decide which law or legal precedent should be applied. The pragmatic views of Cardozo led to the unlimited broadening of the rights of the court, the judicial abuse of power, and the impairment of the role of law and justice in the hearing of specific cases in court.


The Nature of the Judicial Process. New York, 1921.
The Growth of the Law. New York, 1924.