Louis Dembitz Brandeis

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Brandeis, Louis Dembitz

(brăn`dīs), 1856–1941, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1916–39), b. Louisville, Ky., grad. Harvard law school, 1877. As a successful Boston lawyer (1879–1916), Brandeis distinguished himself by investigating insurance practices and by establishing (1907) Massachusetts savings-bank insurance. After defending (1900–1907) 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 legal practice by ensuring that the law would not be viewed as rigid and unchanging, but would be responsive to new situations, new realities, and new facts as they arose.

Brandeis 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 a counsel in the congressional investigation of Richard A. BallingerBallinger, Richard Achilles
, 1858–1922, U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1909–11), b. Boonesboro (now in Boone), Iowa. He was mayor of Seattle (1904–6) and commissioner of the General Land Office (1907–9); in 1909, Taft appointed him Secretary of the
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, 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, who were mainly Jewish, Brandeis, a largely secular Jew, became acutely aware of Jewish problems and afterward became a leader of the Zionist movement. An enemy of industrial and financial monopoly, he formulated the economic doctrine of the New Freedom that Woodrow WilsonWilson, Woodrow
(Thomas Woodrow Wilson), 1856–1924, 28th President of the United States (1913–21), b. Staunton, Va. Educator

He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and studied law at the Univ. of Virginia.
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 adopted in his 1912 presidential campaign.

In 1916, over the protests of vested interests whom Brandeis had alienated in his role as "people's attorney" and despite opposition voiced by anti-Semites and certain business interests, Wilson appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he became the first Jewish justice. Long an advocate of social and economic reforms, he maintained a position of principled judicial liberalism on the bench. With Oliver Wendell HolmesHolmes, Oliver Wendell,
1841–1935, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902–32), b. Boston; son of the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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, 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 DealNew Deal,
in U.S. history, term for the domestic reform program of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; it was first used by Roosevelt in his speech accepting the Democratic party nomination for President in 1932.
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 legislation. He retired from the bench in 1939. Brandeis Univ.Brandeis University,
at Waltham, Mass.; coeducational; chartered and opened 1948. Although Brandeis was founded by members of the American Jewish community, the university operates as an independent, nonsectarian institution.
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 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), and Solomon Goldman, ed., The Words of Justice Brandeis (1953). See also his letters, ed. by M. I. Urofsky and D. W. Levy (1971); biographies by A. T. Mason (1946, repr. 1956) and M. I. Urofsky (2009); studies by M. I. Urofsky (1971, repr. 1981), P. Strum (1984), N. L. Dawson, ed. (1989), and J. Rosen (2016); A. M. Bickel, The Unpublished Opinions of Mr. Justice Brandeis (1957).

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