Cardozo, Benjamin (Nathan)(1870–1938) Supreme Court justice; born in New York City. After attending Columbia Law School (although he never bothered taking a law degree), he began to practice in 1891 and was highly regarded among the legal community when he was elected to the New York Supreme Court (1913). Only six weeks later he was named to the New York Court of Appeals, becoming its chief judge in 1926. His genius at combining a mastery of the law with a philosophic bent was apparent not only in his legal opinions but also in a series of books such as The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921) and Law and Literature (1931). By the time President Hoover appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court (1932–38) he was one of the most admired legal minds in the nation. Broad in his approach to the law, generous in his interpretation of the Constitution, and sensitive to social contexts, he was often in dissent as the Court resisted the sweeping agenda of President Franklin Roosevelt's administration. Seemingly shy, even humble in his manner, he would go down in history as one of the truly great individuals to have served on the Supreme Court.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.