The Quotable Louis D. Brandeis


If Brandeis had been “just” a lawyer, or had become an academic like many of his family members wanted, he probably would not be remembered today. But in addition to everything else, Brandeis was a great writer, and his activism and his seat on the Supreme Court gave him a platform to disseminate his philosophy. The fact that he did that so eloquently is illustrated by the many quotes of his that are still in use. People who have never read Other People’s Money or any of his Supreme Court opinions are familiar with quotes like “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” or “Men feared witches and burned women.”

As the archivist of the Brandeis papers at the University of Louisville, I am asked to verify Brandeis quotes all the time. Most of them are easy to find (although one took me over 10 years to track down) but there always seemed to be new ones that would take some digging. There have been a couple Brandeis quote books published in the past but they were long out of print and they did not include some quotes people were asking about. So, about 15 years ago, I decided to read everything Brandeis wrote and to compile my own collection of quotes. And now that collection has been published by Carolina Academic Press.

The Quotable Brandeis, edited by Peter Scott Campbell

The Quotable Brandeis (ISBN 978-1-53100-413-2) collects all of the quotes that I considered noteworthy from his books, articles, judicial opinions, letters, speeches and interviews. In the course of my research, I uncovered a couple speeches and interviews that had completely eluded researchers. Not only does the book include quotes from them, but I hope to post those items in their entirety online soon. And while the Internet has many Brandeis quotes, this book includes hundreds of quotes not currently online, and it provides full bibliographic citations for each one. Also, while researching this book, I discovered that many quotes on the Internet commonly attributed to Brandeis were not said by him at all. (Sorry tax lawyers, but Brandeis never lived in Alexandria Virginia and he never drove out his way to avoid a toll bridge.)  The book includes a chapter that debunks these quotes, giving the correct attribution for them (when I could find it.) The book also has a foreword by Mel Urofsky, a biographical sketch of Brandeis written by me and an insanely detailed keyword index.

The book is on sale now. If you live in Louisville, you can get a copy from Carmichael’s Bookstore. If you don’t live here, you order it directly from Carolina Academic by calling 919-489-7486. It is also for sale from–in fact you can even rent it from them if that is something you feel inclined to do. The book is been on Amazon as well, but they claim it is out of stock and apparently you have to for a number of weeks to receive your copy.


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