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Louis D. Brandeis: Topics in Chronicling America

Justice Louis Brandeis was the first Jewish American sworn to the United States Supreme Court. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Louis D. Brandeis” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Justice Louis D. Brandeis." September 14, 1917. The American Jewish World (Minneapolis, MN), Image 20. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Known as the “people’s attorney,” Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) gained a reputation as a formidable defender and advocate for everyday Americans through his many crusading cases, which included exposing corruption in the Ballinger-Pinchot Affair, fighting railroad trusts, and defending laws restricting women’s working hours. In 1916, President Wilson appointed him to the United States Supreme Court to considerable controversy over his perceived anti-business stance, and to a lesser extent, his Jewish ancestry. However, Progressives slowly convinced Democrats of his suitability, and Brandeis was sworn in to the Court in June of 1916. As one newspaper in his native Kentucky wrote, “Brandeis has the temperament of the crusader rather than of the judge…We are not worried over that. A little adaptability is only a side line with a man of Louis Brandeis' brilliant mentality and boundless capacity.” Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

1908 Brandeis argues in favor a law restricting women’s working hours in front of the Supreme Court.
1910 Brandeis represents Louis Glavis, a prominent player in the Ballinger-Pinchot conservation scandal.
1911 Brandeis fights against railroad rates increases in New England.
1912 Brandeis advocates for better working conditions for U.S. Steel employees, faces criticism for his prior representation of the United Shoe Machinery Company, and President Wilson considers him as a possibility for Attorney General.
1913 Reports suggest Brandeis will lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Brandeis, however, continues to work against trusts and monopolies in the courtroom and also in the pages of Harper’s Weekly.
1915 Attorney General appoints him Special Counsel in Riggs Case.
January 1916 President Wilson nominates Brandeis to the Supreme Court of the United States.
June 1916 After considerable confirmation controversy, Brandeis is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.