While going through old newspapers, I found a column from 1924 describing the home lives of various wives of justices sitting on the Supreme Court at the time. It is a gossipy little item, precisely the type journalism Brandeis railed against in his “Right to Privacy” article. The column seems to have been part of an anonymously written series commenting on the social life in Washington. There are no great revelations given, but I am reprinting the part about the Brandeis home life here just so people can have an idea of what it would have been like to visit the Brandeises during the 20’s. The excerpt starts just after a paragraph devoted to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s wife.

“Boudoir Mirrors of Washington”

Anonymous Word Pictures of Society Leaders of the National Capital.

Supreme Court Wives

…Then there is Mrs. Louis Brandeis — easily one of the most outstanding ladies of the Supreme Court group. She is handsome, with great dark eyes, good complexion, and snow white hair. And she carries herself well. Why shouldn’t she? Isn’t she one of the Goldmarks, the family that has given Pauline and Josephine Goldmark to the world, besides Mrs. Brandies[?] Hers is a justifiable pride. She was active in suffrage work. She has two daughters, both good feminists.

Running true to tradition, Susan Brandeis worked for suffrage after she graduated and she is now practicing law in New York. You know Elizabeth is executive secretary of the Minimum Wage Commission of the District of Columbia. When the minimum wage law in the district was declared unconstitutional, by a local court, it went to the Supreme Court. There was keen speculation as to what Judge Brandeis would do and how he would vote. But he declined to sit. He had previously argued a similar case and his sympathies were well known. He calls it a matter of ethics. But I think the labor people say it was mere etiquette.

The Brandeis home is not the storm center of the socially elect. If you want your Washington all jazzed up you don’t go there. It is the socially minded people — men and women who care how the other half live, and why they don’t live longer and more happily — these are the people you meet. They are interesting men and women; when they speak you may not agree with them but their remarks are well worth listening to.

Lion hunting isn’t a Brandeis pastime, but the really big game generally gets around to their preserve sooner or later. Of course, you find people who try to sneak up in the night and hang a red flag over the door. Cochineal isn’t brewed in the cellar. The reddest thing in the Brandeis household is the warm glow of human sympathy and understanding.

Ladies of fluffy ruffles, lounge lizards and all the vapid, brainless excitement chasers, go round the block. But if you realize life, in its best, broades[t] sense, just go in.


Frank Brandeis Gilbert died on May 14, 2022, at the age of 91. He was the last surviving child of Susan Brandeis and Jack Gilbert. His cousin Walter Raushenbush is now the last surviving grandchild of Louis Brandeis.

As a child, Gilbert would spend his summers vacationing with his parents and grandparents in Chatham, Massachusetts. In a previous post, I wrote about how he started a newspaper for their grandfather to read. Gilbert recalled that newspaper in a recent interview, stating, “It’s poignant that his last letter to me was about the Gilbert News Service shutting down.”

Gilbert got a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard in 1952, as well as a law degree from Harvard Law School (his grandfather’s alma mater) five years later. Gilbert showed his love for Harvard by being the chairman of the graduate board of the Harvard Crimson for 20 years.

Gilbert started his legal career performing work in public housing and city planning, but he made his name in historic preservation. He was instrumental in keeping Grand Central Terminal from being demolished during the 1960s. After that, he helped create historic districts in over 100 cities.

Like his sister, Alice Popkin, Frank was a big supporter of the law school at the University of Louisville, where he attended many Brandeis Medal events. He was also a constant source of information for me in all of my research on his grandfather. He will be greatly missed by me and many others.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Frank and Ann Gilbert Scholarship Fund at Brandeis University (be sure to mention the name of the scholarship in the form) or the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland.


This post has a special guest author: Louis Brandeis’ great-grandson, Paul Raushenbush. Paul is the Senior Advisor for Public Affairs and Innovation at the Interfaith Youth Core, and is the grandson of Brandeis’ daughter Elizabeth. He sent me the following tribute to his grandmother on what would have been her 126th birthday. I enjoyed it so much that I asked his permission to reprint it here, which he graciously granted.

Today, April 25, in 1896, Elizabeth Brandeis was born to her parents Alice Goldmark Brandeis and Louis D. Brandeis and older sister Susan.

I have been writing the story of Elizabeth Brandeis – or E.B. to those who knew her – for the past several years, finding old photo albums, caches of letters and memorabilia, searching her archives at Wisconsin Historical Society and Schlesinger Library, and stumbling across information that has made my grandmother’s life become vivid and meaningful and relevant for my life and our moment. Before I finish that work, I want to offer a sketch of her life, hopefully so people will join me in celebrating her birthday today.

E.B. was a shy girl, who grew up missing classes at the rather uptight Miss Winsor’s academy; playing alone after school, teaching herself to roller skate along the Charles river in Boston. However, she had powerful women role models surrounding her including her aunts Josephine and Pauline Goldmark as well as a cadre of other strong women who were around them such as Florence Kelly, Jane Adams, Julia Lathrop, Francis Perkins, Lillian Wald, and Elizabeth Glendower Evans. They were women who were – excuse my French – kick ass – who were dedicated to improving working conditions and increasing wages, eliminating child labor, and overall seeking justice and dignity for humanity.

A photograph of a young Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush reading a sheet of paper.
Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush

Once at Radcliffe, Elizabeth found the friends she had been seeking and became more herself; graduating Phi Beta Kappa in Economics, and voted head of the student body while playing basketball, acting in plays such as the Emperor Has No Clothes, and leading the college socialists.

After college she moved to D.C. where she and one other woman named Clara Mortenson Beyer administered the nation’s first minimum wage law. The law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, a decision in which her father recused himself. E.B. decided to explore the intersection of law and economics, and as none of the East Coast schools would accept women, including her father’s beloved alma mater, she decided to attend classes at the Law School for the summer at University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1923.

In her Torts class, she saw a handsome young man who was taking the law class, although he was a lecturer in Economics under John R. Commons. His name was Paul Rauschenbusch and he was the son of Pauline and Walter Rauschenbusch. Elizabeth found the economics department more interesting than law and that fall joined as first an MA and then. Ph.D. In 1925, Elizabeth Brandeis and Paul Raushenbush made the national papers as they eloped to spend the next three weeks canoeing in Canada and three years later they had a son, Walter, my father, the same year that E.B. earned her Ph.D. in Economics.

E.B. and Paul both taught in the economics department – scandalous for the time – and there they came up, along with their friends Harold Groves and Governor Phil LaFollette with a plan for Unemployment Compensation that eventually would be the first UC bill in the nation and would be the blueprint for FDR’s Social Security Act of 1935. Paul would go on to administer the Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation Bill for the rest of his career.

One of her students was Robert Lampman who became known as the intellectual architect of the War on Poverty who recalled later how E.B.’s classroom had prepared him for his work in Washington: “I was doing what Elizabeth Brandeis knew how to do, and took her back to the Brandeis brief of her father, when he was a young lawyer–of gathering the kinds of basic information you need to make an enlightened decision about child labor or disability or whatever.”

In 1959, E.B. was appointed chair of the Governor’s Committee on Migratory Labor and was instrumental in bringing labor justice to migrant workers in Wisconsin. Jesus Salas, who was known as the Cesar Chavez of Wisconsin migrant workers wrote to me in an email: “Your grandmother was my mentor. She was extremely interested in expanding services to migrant families, to women and children in the migrant labor camps. She was scandalized by the conditions of the migrant labor camps. At receptions at her home, I recall how gracious she was being the host, again, the gatherings were on behalf of migrant issues, but none of us wished to be anywhere else than with your grandmother.”

A photograph of an older Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush.
Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush

At her retirement event – which was, naturally, a knowledge gathering symposium on effective state labor legislation – one of the speakers was Clara Penniman who was the first woman faculty member of the Political Science Department at Wisconsin; later becoming the first woman Chair of the Department, and was the founder and first director of the Center for the Study of Public Policy at Wisconsin that later became the Lafollette School for Public Affairs. She started her speech by saying: “I met E.B., as you might expect, in an organization that attempts to bring knowledge to bear on public problems.” In her conclusion she offered this assessment: “It seems to me that the appropriate single word to describe E.B. is concern. Concern for the welfare of students, concern for the personal problems of friends and associates, concern for a wide range of public problems. This is concern that is translated not into negative criticism or bemoaning of life and the world but is translated into positive problem-solving action.”

E.B. always considered what she did “Action Research,” meaning the purpose of her research was to make her ideas and the solutions better to serve the needs of the people. Recently I was searching Elizabeth Brandeis online and saw that the Department of Labor had decided to name a research initiative after her. The Elizabeth Brandeis Unemployment Insurance Research Center will be founded at a University to promote ‘Action Research’ to ensure that Unemployment Insurance reaches those who need it most.

What a supremely appropriate effort to be attached to E.B.’s name.

So, Happy Birthday E.B.! I look forward to sharing more when the book is complete but glad today that you can know her just a bit more and celebrate with me.


The names Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren are inextricably linked due to their co-authorship of the landmark article “The Right to Privacy,” but for much of Brandeis’ life the men were linked in many other ways. While Brandeis was academically first in their class at Harvard Law School, Warren was right behind him. Rather than fostering a rivalry, the two men became close friends and they ended up forming the firm Warren and Brandeis in Boston a year or so after they graduated. Warren’s family was one of the most prominent families in Boston and not only did they steer a lot of important business to the fledgling firm, but they also welcomed Brandeis with open arms.

Picture of the Warren family. Brandeis’ partner and friend, Samuel D. Warren (Jr.) is the one kneeling on the floor.

Warren’s father passed away in 1888, an event that would end the professional partnership between Warren and Brandeis and would lead to ramifications that would haunt Brandeis for decades.

The source of the Warren family’s wealth was a paper mill in Maine and because of the elder Warren’s death, it looked like the mill would have had to be sold. In order to prevent that from happening, Brandeis and Warren devised a complicated trust that created a board that ran the company in such a way that its profits could be shared equally amongst all of the Warren family members. One immediate effect of this arrangement was that Warren had to give up the practice of law, which he loved, so that he could run the board.

The other effect took a longer turn to develop and was much more insidious. For the first few years, the mill continued to turn a healthy profit, but after a while, the combination of a recession and increased competition resulted in smaller payouts to the family. The decrease in profits infuriated Warren’s brother Edward (or Ned, as he was known within the family) who became convinced that not only was Warren mismanaging the mill but that the trust had been created in such a way to benefit Warren at the expense of the rest of the family. After years of negotiations and threats, Ned filed suit against Samuel in 1909. The suit never made it to court however, because in February 1910, Samuel ended up committing suicide.

Edward “Ned” Perry Warren

The subject of Warren’s suicide and its impact on Brandeis’ nomination to the Supreme Court are the subject of an article written by yours truly that is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History (volume 46, issue 3). The article came about as the result of the discovery of two letters in the Brandeis papers collection at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. While the collection has around 250,000 items that were donated to the law school by Brandeis, various other items have trickled into the collection over the years. Some of the new material came from Nutter McClennen & Fish, which is what the firm founded by Warren and Brandeis is called now. While going through collection a couple years ago, two letters that were given to us by Nutter caught my eye.

While researching for his book Brandeis: A Free Man’s Life, Alpheus Mason came into possession of a letter written by Richard Walden Hale, a Boston lawyer who worked occasionally with Brandeis, most notably on the creation of Saving Bank Life Insurance. (Interestingly, Hale was also the founder of a law firm that is still extant: WilmerHale.) Written shortly after Brandeis’ death and in apparent response to a friend’s inquiry into their relationship, Hale makes caustic comments about Brandeis’ behavior in a number of matters, including the Warren family trust and subsequent lawsuit. Mason showed this letter to Edward McClennen, who was one of the partners at Brandeis’ firm and was also the man who spearheaded Brandeis’ defense during the Senate hearings over Brandeis’ nomination to the Supreme Court. McClennen wrote a letter back to Mason that refuted all of Hale’s points, while also including a number of anecdotes about his former boss and mentor.

I’m not sure what happened to Mason’s copies of the letters, but McClennen apparently kept his copies at work, which is how they got included in the batch of Brandeis related files that Nutter donated to the law school. Despite having been gathered for his biography, Mason made scant use of the letters, and none of Brandeis’ later biographers appear to have seen them, so much of the information in them is new. They touch on many points of Brandeis’ career, but the most significant aspect about the letters is the light they shed the impact Warren’s death had on Brandeis’ nomination. I had long wondered why so many of Brandeis’ peers in Boston were so opposed to the nomination. I won’t reveal the answer here — you’ll have to read the article to find out for yourself. Suffice to say, there was more to it than reactionary attitudes and anti-Semitism.


Occasionally during my research, I stumble upon speeches and articles by Brandeis that were never collected in any of the books he published. I found six such writings while researching my quote book. I have been meaning for years to transcribe and post them but for various reasons I was unable to do so until recently. None of the writings are earth shattering but I am hoping their availability will perhaps help any researchers gain an insight or two.

Brandeis was, of course, a major advocate for Zionism and the Ford Hall in Boston gave him the opportunity one night in 1915 to describe the aims and goals of Zionism to a large, and mostly Gentile, audience. His speech, and a question and answer session, were published in the October 24, 1915 edition of Ford Hall Folks in an article titled “Zionism and the Aims of Jewish Democracy.” Many of Brandeis’ speeches on Zionism were collected in the book Brandeis on Zionism, but most of the speeches in there are fairly short. This speech is one of his best (and longest) articulations of what Brandeis hoped Zionism would accomplish.

Brandeis made many speeches during his years long fight against the New Haven Railroad monopoly. “Brandeis Would Smash Monopoly,” published in the December 29, 1912 edition of the Providence Daily Journal is a pretty typical example of one of his speeches. Somewhat less typical is something I have given the unimaginative title “Address Before the Cambridge Citizens’ Trade Association.” This is something I found in our collection here at the University of Louisville. On March 25, 1908, Brandeis debated the New Haven/Boston & Maine question with a couple officials from the New Haven Railroad. The entire debate was transcribed by some unknown person and then typed out. I have just posted Brandeis’ speech from the night. Since it is a mostly unvarnished copy of his speech, it lacks the polish of his writings but it gives a good idea of what he was like as a speaker. It is also an example of a rare occasion when he used humor in a public setting.

Brandeis on Big Textile Strike at Lawrence and Industrial Democracy” from the March 17, 1912 edition of the Boston American is a good articulation of Brandeis’ views on the importance of unions, workers as co-managers and preferential shops. “Twin Evils of the Literacy Test,” published in the April 15, 1915 issue of La Follette’s Magazine, is an argument against voter repression and a rare instance of Brandeis talking about racial discrimination. “Brandeis Urges All Boston Citizens to Be on the Lookout,” published in the April 9, 1903 edition of the Boston Morning Journal, is, frankly, a minor speech on political corruption in Boston.

Even though I have already provided links to the speeches, I feel obligated to point out that they are collected together on the web site that I maintain for the Brandeis collection at the Louis D. Brandeis School at the University of Louisville. You can find another ten previously unreprinted speeches there, as well as the complete text of a couple of his books.


When I was first put in charge of the Brandeis and Harlan papers here at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, most of the attention our collection generated was directed towards Brandeis’ papers. People were aware of Harlan and there would be the occasional reference question about him, but he seemed to be a marginal character in Supreme Court history. However, his stature has grown steadily during the last 25 years — so much so that two biographies about him have come out in the past two years.

Steve Luxenburg’s Separate was actually a group biography of four people which functioned also as a history of segregation in America. Similarly, The Great Dissenter: the Story of John Marshall Harlan, America’s Judicial Hero by Peter S. Canellos, the managing editor of Politico, tells the story of the plight of African-Americans throughout the 19th century through the lens of a dual biography.

The book is primarily a straightforward biography of Harlan, and as such, it covers the usual beats: his upbringing in Kentucky, his Civil War experiences, his political career, and an in depth look at his Supreme Court opinions, particularly the ones on civil rights. But, in an inspired stroke, Canellos gives the story an added depth by contrasting Harlan’s life with another biography: that of Robert Harlan.

Robert Harlan was a former slave who had been raised in the Harlan household. All through John and Robert’s lives it was rumored that the two were half-brothers. This has recently been disproved through DNA testing, but what is undeniable is that the two men had a brotherly bond. And Robert led a life that was just as exciting as John’s. He made a fortune during the California gold rush, raced horses throughout America and England and became one of Cincinnati’s more prominent citizens.

Robert’s success would not last forever however. As Jim Crow laws proliferated in the late 19th century, they blighted the lives of Robert Harlan and African Americans throughout the country. By incorporating the story of Robert Harlan into John Marshall Harlan’s story, Canellos gives the narrative a poignancy that other Harlan biographies lack. He is also thus able to answer a question that has bedeviled other historians: how did a former slaveholder who opposed emancipation and the Reconstruction amendments come to be one of the most outspoken advocates for civil rights on the Supreme Court? The answer is that because of his relationship with Robert Harlan, he could see the benefits of the amendments and the Civil Rights Act at first hand, as well as the damage that was caused by their dilution by the courts.

There are other pleasures to be found in the book. Canellos refutes the charges of racism levied at Harlan, and discusses Harlan’s dissents in cases on subjects other than civil rights that have proved to be just as prescient. Overall, The Great Dissenter is the best biography of Harlan written so far and should be read by anyone interested about this great American and/or the history of civil rights.

If you live in the Louisville area and would like to hear Canellos talk about the book and maybe even have him autograph a copy of it, the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law is co-sponsoring a lecture by Canellos with the Frazier History Museum and the Louisville Bar Association on August 24. Click on the link for details.

Ad promoting the Canellos lecture on his book. "Let's Talk. Bridging the Divide: "The Great Dissenter: John Marshall Harlan" August 24 2021 1:30 AM to 1 PM Frazier History Museum 4th Floor Loft

I am pleased to present another guest post from Laura Rothstein, former Dean of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and Brandeis groupie extraordinaire.

Louis Brandeis wrote many, many letters and notes during his lifetime.   Many were to his mother and brother in Louisville.  Many of these family letters were given to the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and are archived in the Handmaker Room of the Law Library.  Occasionally a new discovery is added.   

 David Wolfson’s mother, Isabel Grossman, was a student at Adath Israel Temple (now just called The Temple) in 1937.  She sent birthday greetings on behalf of her class to Louis Brandeis.  Being a good correspondent, he wrote back.  The note from Louis Brandeis was found by David Wolfson, an attorney in California, when his cousin Phil Grossman asked him about a letter David’s mother had received from Lou Gehrig.  In the folder where that letter was found, the letter from Justice Brandeis was also discovered.  When Phil Grossman (a 1980 graduate of the law school) contacted the law school about this, the letter from Isabel was discovered in the Law School archives.  Reproductions of both letters will soon be displayed at The Temple library.   

The contents of the letter from Isabel Grossman are the following: 

November 7, 1937 {Brandeis’s birthday is November 13} 

2140 Bonnycastle 

Louisville, Kentucky                          (handwritten note by Brandeis – 6/29/38) 

Dear Justice Brandeis:– 

Class G of the Adath Israel Temple wishes to congratulate you on your birthday.  We are very proud that you too, are a native of Louisville. 

I am the great granddaughter of Myer and Jane Goldberg, who were great friends of Mr. Louis {Lewis} Dembitz.  One summer night in Civil War times, Mr. Dembitz came to my great-grandparents home.  They discussed the War so heatedly that Mr. Dembitz in his excitement jumped up and sat on the drum stove.  My great grandfather who liked a practical joke, went out of the room unnoticed by the others and brought in some wood to start a fire in the stove.  So engrossed was Mr. Dembitz in his conversation that he did not become aware of his seat until the stove got warm.  I am telling this story because I knew you would be interested in the man for who you were named. 

With best wishes for your birthday 

I remain 

Yours sincerely 

Isabel Grossman 

c/o Class “G” 

Adath Israel Sunday 

School, 834 S. 3rd St. 

The reply from Louis Brandeis, which was donated (including the envelope with the return address of the Supreme Court and a three cent stamp – which did not change until 1958 to 4 cents –) is the following: 

Chatham Mass  

June 28, 1938 

Dear Isabel Grossman 

The work of the court compelled deferring until the long vacation the pleasure of thanking class G of Adath Israel Temple for the kind birthday greeting. 

The story which you tell of my Uncle Lewis Dembitz interests me much.  

With Best wishes 

Cordially 

Louis D Brandeis 

The contents of both notes highlight some interesting facts.   

First, Lewis Dembitz was a well-known and highly regarded attorney in Louisville.  There are many interesting stories about his forceful personality and he is credited as being part of starting the Louisville Bar Association.  He was the brother of Louis Brandeis’s mother, Fredericka Dembitz, and he was politically active, including attending the 1860 Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln.  Although the letter from Isabel states that Louis Brandeis was named for his uncle, there is no evidence that that was the case.  It is more likely that he was named for the city in which he was born.  The pronunciation of his name was also the French “lou-ee”.   It is true, however, that Louis so admired his uncle that at age 13, he changed his middle name from David to Dembitz.   

Isabel’s note references the Civil War.  The Brandeis family members were abolitionists, and Louisville was at a key crossroads during the Civil War – geographically and politically.  Louis Brandeis’ first memories are at age 6 serving food and coffee to Union soldiers on his front yard with his brother and mother.   

Lewis Dembitz was a practicing Orthodox Jew.  Louis Brandeis and his immediate family did not observe Jewish traditions, but Louis admired his uncle and observed his practices and it is believed that Lewis Dembitz was influential in Louis Brandeis becoming the leader of the American Zionist movement for several years.   

Second, the reply from Louis Brandeis notes an apology for the delayed response and explains that the work of the Court had deferred his reply to the birthday wishes.  Louis Brandeis believed strongly in the importance of taking time to relax and refresh – every day and throughout the year.  One of his most noted quotes is that “I soon learned that I could do twelve months work in eleven months, but not in twelve.

Brandeis had a home in Chatham, where he spent the summers, with his four grandchildren being much a part of summer relaxation.  That home is still owned by one of the grandchildren.   

It is noteworthy that 1938 was the year before Louis Brandeis retired from the Court (1939).  He died in 1941.   

While perhaps not sufficient to be worthy of a Ken Burns documentary, these two notes provide an opportunity to explore the history and life of two noted lawyers from Louisville as well as some history about Jewish life in Louisville.  What a “beshert” discovery, and how generous of David Wolfson to share it with the Louisville community and for Phil Grossman to facilitate the opportunity to share these documents and the story behind them. 


I have recently discovered an old Louisville Courier-Journal article that recounts a Zionist speech given by Louis D. Brandeis in Louisville on January 5, 1916 — just a few weeks before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. It is not a significant speech, but since it has never been reprinted before, I thought I would go ahead and copy it here. Since the speech is so short (the Courier-Journal did not publish the whole thing), I thought I would reprint the entire January 6, 1916 article. One note: the article gets the names of Brandeis’ relatives wrong. Brandeis’ father’s name was Adolph, and Albert was actually Brandeis’ cousin. Brandeis’ brother was Alfred and not only was he a fairly prominent citizen of Louisville, he was also still alive at the time, so it is a little surprising the Courier-Journal got that wrong.

SAYS JEWS WILL COME INTO OWN

Brandeis Discusses Colonization of Palestine.

Describes Sufferings Endured During the War.

COLLECTION IS TAKEN UP

Belgium’s fate as compared with the sufferings of the Jews on the western frontier of Russia during this war is not so terrible as many would believe, in the opinion of Louis D. Brandeis, a former Louisvillian, who spoke last night to a large gathering of Jewish residents and others at B’rith Sholom Temple in the interest of the Zionist movement. The speaker declared that the efforts of colonizing Palestine with Jews have borne fruit and the beginning of the re-establishment of the Jewish nation has been made. A collection was taken up and besides cash donations many pledges were made.

Mr. Brandeis, a son of the late Adam [sic] Brandeis and a brother of the late Albert S. [sic] Brandeis, was honored by Louisville Jews at a reception at Hotel Henry Watterson at noon yesterday, which was followed by a luncheon arranged by M. W. Ades, secretary of the Louisville Zionists, Dr. I. N. Bloom and Ben S. Washer. Mr. Ades introduced Dr. Bloom at the meeting last night as the chairman of the meeting and the latter paid tribute to Mr. Brandeis. Dr. Bloom said that the environments which Mr. Brandeis enjoyed here and the influences under which he received his first training made him what he is to-day, an honored citizen of the United States and an earnest worker in the cause of the Jews.

Depicts Fate of Jews.

Mr. Brandeis spoke in part as follows:

“Not since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the fifteenth century has a catastrophe befallen them that can compare with what they are undergoing at the present time. Belgium’s fate is almost nothing compared with the sufferings of the Jews. Belgium was conquered only once, but the region on the western frontier of Russia, where millions of Jews live, has been devastated a number of times during the last sixteen months. To a certain extent Belgium was prepared, politically and economically, for the war. Its inhabitants had been living a quiet live and they were prosperous. The Jews have been suppressed for centuries. They lived in poverty. Here in America we have very few poor Jews, but it is no secret that in the city of Odessa, for instance, 70 per cent. of all Jewish burials are pauper burials.

“Belgium has a united people, proud of the past and hopeful of the future. Belgium can issue bonds and let coming generations take care of them. The Jews have nothing to look forward to. They are helpless and the worst is that millions who live in good circumstances are almost powerless to help them. Little Montenegro will have a word in the peace negotiations, but the Jews will not, though there are many individual Jews whose wealth is greater than that of the entire Montenegro nation.”

Predicts Renaissance.

“Still there is hope. The Jewish colonies in Palestine, furthered by the Zionist movement, which has spread all over the world, have done much toward making the Jewish nation once more recognized everywhere. As a result of the colonization of Palestine by Jews, the Jews are once more being talked about. Jewish customs are being developed, Jewish dances are danced, Jewish individuality and characteristics are reformed. In all the lands on the face of the globe where Jews are, a determination that the Palestine colonization plan must and shall grow has made itself manifest. It is not the purpose to send to Palestine Jews who are succeeding elsewhere, but to make it possible for poor German, Russian, Rumanian and other Jews to settle in Palestine and contribute to the re-establishment of a new Jewish nation. Jews who live in Palestine will solve the Jewish problem. They will bring about a renaissance. They will bring back to them their self-respect, their nationality.

“To-day, if a Jew does something great, he is either a German, a Frenchman, an Englishman or a Dane, and even Russia does not hesitate to claim him as her own. The Palestine movement will change all this and the Jew will come into his own again. Prejudice will disappear and credit will be given him for what he does and what he is. If in an anti-Semitic Europe the sentiment in favor of the Jew has changed, as is evidenced by the fact that almost all the nations involved in the present war are talking about what to do with the Jews when peace is declared, the 3,000,000 Jews in America can do much to assist in restoring to the Jew what he is entitled to.”


Because it’s March, and everything this month seems to revolve around the NCAA tournament, SCOTUSblog has created its own tournament to determine the greatest Supreme Court justices of all time. The bracket started with 16 justices, which readers could then vote on. I’m a little late in learning about this; the first round is already over, and they are down to the Elite 8. Both Louis D. Brandeis and John Marshall Harlan have survived the initial round and face interestingly personal opponents in the second. Harlan is up against his namesake John Marshall, while Brandeis is competing against his bro Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (who defeated Brandeis’s other BFF, Felix Frankfurter.) I’m not sure when this round ends, so if you’re interested, hurry over to SCOTUSblog and cast your vote.

[Update: Brandeis made it to the final four, but then he was defeated by Earl Warren. Well, OK, I guess, but then how in the world did Warren defeat John Marshall to win the tournament? March Madness indeed.


In previous posts in this blog, I have pointed out videos about Louis D. Brandeis that I found on YouTube. Rather than having separate posts for each video, I have decided to group them all in one post for more efficient reference. I will start with two videos I have recently discovered, but I will add more videos as I find them. I will also at some point go back over the blog and repost any videos I have previously written about, while removing the original posts. (I cannot remember if I have posted about any videos about John Marshall Harlan, but if I find any, I will post them here as well.)


On March 23, 2016, Harvard Law School celebrated the centennial of Brandeis’ nomination to the Supreme Court with a panel discussion that was moderated by Harvard Law’s Tomiko Brown-Nagin and Mark Tushnet. Clyde Spillenger talked about how Brandeis created a model for public service work. Brandeis biographer Melvin Urofsky discussed how Brandeis’ court opinions on free speech affected First Amendment law. And Jeffrey Rosen made the argument that Brandeis was the greatest constitutional scholar of the 20th century.


Six months after the Harvard event, Jeffrey Rosen and Melvin Urofsky teamed up again, only this time with Brandeis biographer Philippa Strum, to celebrate the centennial of Brandeis’ confirmation onto the Supreme Court by the Senate. Rosen uses excerpts from his book Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet to get Urofsky and Strum to discuss various aspects of Brandeis’s beliefs.


The centennial of Brandeis’ nomination was celebrated at Brandeis University on January 28, 2016 with a speech by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that detailed Brandeis’ influence on her as a lawyer and a judge. A good part of her speech is dedicated to Brandeis’ brief in Muller v. Oregon, which she approved for its methodology but was appalled by its conclusions. She also stated that she believed that had Brandeis been on the court then, he would voted to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act and would have voted with the minority in Citizen’s United. After her speech, there is a panel discussion with her and Ralph D. Gants, Philippa Strum, Mark Wolf and Jeffrey Toobin.


On November 18, 2020, the National Archives held an interview with Brad Snyder, the author of the book The House of Truth, which was about the influence Felix Frankfurter and Walter Lippman had on Washington politics during the 1920s and 30s. Snyder talks about how Frankfurter and Lippman fought for Brandeis’ confirmation. (Do yourself a favor though and don’t read the comments below the video. You will lose your faith in humanity.)


In 1907, Brandeis helped create SBLI, a chain of Massachusetts banks that offered affordable and safe life insurance for the working class. In 2007, SBLI celebrated their centennial by creating a documentary about Brandeis’ life, which ran on PBS, and is now on YouTube. My colleague Laura Rothstein is interviewed and the documentary also uses some rare newsreel footage that was discovered by me.


Melvin Urofsky’s publicity tour for his book Louis D. Brandeis: A Life resulted in a number of YouTube videos. In the video below, Urofsky gives a short speech at Brandeis University about his book’s approach to Brandeis’ life.

Urofsky also sat down for a Q&A on C-SPAN.


Jeffrey Rosen’s publicity tour for his book also resulted in a couple videos. On February 18, 1916, he gave a talk at Dartmouth College, in which he outlined Brandeis’ continued relevance.

On October 18, 2017, Rosen spoke at the Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Connecticut, Stamford. He speaks about Brandeis’ support for privacy and free speech, his opposition to bigness, and his involvement with Zionism.


Brandeis’ involvement with Zionism is the topic of a video put out by the Capital Jewish Museum, which was a tie in with an exhibit they housed honoring Brandeis that was curated by Melvin Urofsky. The video features a short interview with Urofsky about Brandeis and the history of Zionism in America. Then Urofsky interviews Brandeis’ grandchildren Alice Popkin and Frank Gilbert, along with Brandeis’ former clerk, Graham Clayton, about their memories of the Justice.


The American Constitution Society put out a video recording of a conversation between Melvin Urofsky and Ken Gormley on the differences between Brandeis’ conception of privacy in his article “The Right to Privacy” and his later opinion in Olmstead.


The television show Kentucky Life produced a segment about Brandeis and his connection with the law school at the University of Louisville. The segment features shots of the room in the law school’s library where his personal papers are kept, as well as interviews with Laura Rothstein, Congressman John Yarmouth, and Brandeis’ grandson, Frank Gilbert. Also, if you look closely, you can catch glimpses of me hovering at the edge of various shots, like a forlorn ghost.

In January 2011, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave a speech for the New York Ethical Society on Brandeis’ Muller v. Oregon brief. YouTube only has a one minute clip, but the entire speech can be found on C-SPAN’s site.

C-SPAN has a number of videos on their site that are not available on YouTube. In a previous post, I talked about Pepperdine Law School had a symposium on the five “worst” Supreme Court decisions. You can read the post for more details, but here are the direct links for the videos for the discussion on Plessy v. Ferguson and Erie Railroad v. Tompkins.