Celebrating Louis’ ascension to the court – 100 years later

Brandeis celebrates its namesake's ascension to the nation's highest court.

Photo/Brandeis Archives and Special Collections
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A full century ago – on June 1, 1916 – Louis D. Brandeis took his seat on the United States Supreme Court, becoming the nation’s first Jewish Justice.

Known as “the People’s Attorney,” Brandeis’ legacy of fighting for social justice, personal privacy and free expression lives on today.

Atypically for the time, the confirmation process was not easy for Brandeis, who was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson after the death of Associate Justice Joseph Lamar.

As part of Brandeis’ confirmation process, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, the first time they ever subjected a Supreme Court nominee to such scrutiny.

Students in legal studies lecturer Daniel Breen’s “Louis Brandeis: Law, Business and Politics,” captured the confirmation processes' key moments on an interactive timeline that’s currently hanging inside the Shapiro Campus Center.

In fact, the timeline notes that the Senate Judiciary Committee had delayed the confirmation process. Noting the delay, Attorney General Watt Gregory asked the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to ask President Wilson for a summary of reasons why Brandeis was nominated in the first place.

The President responded promptly.

“No one,” President Wilson wrote, “Is more imbued to the very heart of our American ideals of justice and equality of opportunity…he is a friend of all just men and a lover of the right; and he knows more than how to talk about the right – he knows how to set it forward in the face of its enemies.”

After a months-long process, Brandeis was finally voted in by a 47-22 Senate vote.

And today, Brandeis University is celebrating its namesake’s life and legacy through Louis D. Brandeis 100: Then and Now, a semester-long series of events, panels and installations throughout campus.

Categories: General, Student Life

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