Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis is hailed as the most influential member of the United States Supreme Court and Associate Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo described as one of the ablest and most qualified men ever to come to the bench of the Supreme Court in the 144 years of its existence, in a book, whose authors are anonymous, entitled “More Merry Go Round.”
The volume dealing with notables in Washington discloses a number of incidents hitherto unknown to the public at large.
A portion of the chapter on the United States Supreme Court is devoted to Justices Brandeis and Cardozo, the fight against their appointments as Jews and their records of office.
The book reveals that three associate Justices of the Supreme Court opposed the appointment of Justice Cardozo because it would mean adding another Jew to the bench.
It tells also of the opposition to Justice Brandeis because of his so-called radical tendencies, when Woodrow Wilson named him Attorney General, later asking Brandeis to withdraw his name as a personal favor, and again when his name was offered for the Supreme Court appointment.
The judges who opposed the Cardozo appointment, according to the book, are Justice James Clark McReynolds, Justice Pierce Butler and Justice Willis van Devanter.
“When Cardozo’s appointment was being pressed on Hoover,” says the volume, “McReynolds joined with Butler and van Devanter in urging the White House not to ‘afflict the court with another Jew.'”
While the three “early American colleagues” of Justice Cardozo opposed his naming on racial grounds, actually Justice Cardozo’s lineage in this country goes back to the early seventeen hundreds, the book says.
Senator Borah and Justice Harlan F. Stone of New York are credited with decisively causing the naming of Cardozo. When President Hoover hesitated to name a third New Yorker to the bench, Borah is quoted as having declared: “Mr. President, the man you appoint to the Supreme Court represents every state, Idaho as well as New York. If you appoint Judge Cardozo, you will be winning the applause of the whole country and not merely one part.”
Still hesitant, President Hoover consulted Justice Stone on the chances of securing a confirmation of the names of other men. According to the book, “Stone said nothing about their qualification as compared with Cardozo but laid stress on the fact that while it might be possible to obtain the votes to put any of them through, the naming of Cardozo not only would bring instantaneous confirmation but would receive tremendous national applause. The argument convinced Hoover.”
Of Justice Cardozo the book says: “In one hundred and forty-four years that the Supreme Court has been in existence, however, few men have been better qualified to bring it fresh legal atmosphere or a better endowment in ability and experience than the latest Justice to join the court.”
Discussing Justice Brandeis, the book states: “Through his friendships with hundreds of men and women in public and private life, Brandeis in his quiet and unobtrusive way wields a wider influence than any other justice of the court.”
The cry of radical prevented Wilson from carrying through his nomination of Brandeis as Attorney-General in his cabinet, but though this cry was raised again when Brandeis’ name was presented for the Supreme Court, it did not deter Wilson.
“Woodrow Wilson,” it asserts, “had appointed Brandeis as Attorney-General in his cabinet and almost immediately after started for a vacationing in Bermuda, leaving behind a furore of protest led by the Boston Bar Association. Wilson, afraid to face criticism, wrote Brandeis a letter asking that as a personal favor, he withdraw.”
A different situation developed when the Supreme Court appointment came up, states the volume. At that time “Wilson faced a difficult campaign for re-election and he needed the Jewish vote. To get it he promised Louis Marshall, Samuel Untermeyer and Charles R. Crane to appoint Brandeis to the Supreme Court. From this he could not recede.”
Justice Brandeis is hailed as a crusader of social order by the authors of the book. “There have been other enlightened and brilliant jurists on the Supreme Court bench â€” among the greatest of them, Brandeis’ close friend, Justice Holmes. But they were concerned above all with propounding principle and law. Brandeis is not content with such a role,” the book says.
“He is a crusader of social order, the defender, formulator and philosopher of economic democracy.
“It is this historic role that Justice Brandeis fills in the life of the nation. It was as a crusader that he came to the Supreme Court over the bitter opposition and protests of entrenched wealth and it is as a crusader that for sixteen years he has carved his mighty place as a jurist,” states “More Merry Go Round.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.