Benjamin N. Cardozo

(Benjamin Nathan Cardozo)

Benjamin N. Cardozo
Benjamin N. Cardozo
  • Born: May 24, 1870
  • Died: July 9, 1938
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Judge









Benjamin Nathan Cardozo was an American jurist who served on the New York Court of Appeals and later as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Cardozo is remembered for his significant influence on the development of American common law in the 20th century, in addition to his philosophy and vivid prose style. Cardozo served on the Supreme Court six years, from 1932 until his death in 1938. Many of his landmark decisions were delivered during his eighteen-year tenure on the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court of that state.

Quotes About
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[A] privilege takes flight when abused. Miscellaneous
A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Again and again, the altruist has arisen in politics, has bidden us share with others the product of our toil, and has proclaimed the communistic dogma as the panacea for our social ills. So today, amid the buried hopes and buried projects of the past, the doctrine of communism still lives in the minds of men. Under stress of misfortune, or in dread of tyranny, it is still preached in modern times as Plato preached it in the world of the Greeks. Yet it is indeed doubtful whether, in the history of mankind, a doctrine was ever taught more impracticable or more false to the principles it professes than this very doctrine of communism Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
As in the days of Edward I, the citizenry may be called upon to enforce the justice of the state, not faintly and with lagging steps but honestly and bravely and with whatever implements and facilities are convenient and at hand. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Congress may spend money in aid of the "general welfare. Welfare
Crime is contagious. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Disclosure is the antidote to partiality and favor. Management & Managing Government
Expediency may tip the scales when arguments are nicely balanced. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Freedom & Liberty
I may seem to quote overmuch. My excuse is the desire to make manifest that back of what I write is the sanction of something stronger than my own unaided thought. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
If the moral and physical fiber of its manhood and its womanhood is not a state concern, the question is, what is? Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
It’s not what I as a judge believe is right. It is what I believe the normal man of reasonable ability and integrity believes is right. Justice & Injustice
Justice is determined by the personality of the judges. Justice & Injustice
Justice is not to be taken by storm. She is to be wooed by slow advance. Justice & Injustice ;Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Law never is, but is always about to be. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Morality is not merely different in different communities. Its level is not the same for all the component groups within the same community. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Obedience to the law is itself a moral duty. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Our course of advance... is neither a straight line nor a curve. It is a series of dots and dashes. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Principles that have served their day expire, and new principles are born. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The anarchist is not at liberty to break the law because he reasons that all government is wrong. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
The Constitution was framed under the dominion of a political philosophy... It was framed upon the theory that the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together, and that in the long run prosperity and salvation are in union and not division. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The death penalty will seem to the next generation, as it seems to many even now, an anachronism too discordant to be suffered, mocking with grim reproach all our clamorous professions of the sanctity of life. Capital Punishment, Dealth Penalty & State Execution
The end to be achieved [by public welfare] is the quality of men and women. Welfare
The great ideals of liberty and equality are preserved against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles. Equality & Equal Opportunity
The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The judges’ individual sense of justice . . . might result in a benevolent despotism if the judges were benevolent men. [But] It would put an end to the reign of law Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The law has outgrown its primitive stage of formalism when the precise word was the sovereign talisman, and every slip was fatal. It takes a broader view to-day. A promise may be lacking, and yet the whole writing may be "instinct with an obligation," imperfectly expressed. If that is so, there is a contract. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The prophet and the martyr do not see the hooting throng. Their eyes are fixed on the eternities. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
The punishment of the wrongdoer is not designed as atonement for a crime; it is a solace to the individual who has suffered a private wrong. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The spirit of the age, as it is revealed to each of us, is too often only the spirit of the group in which the accidents of birth or education or occupation or fellowship have given us a place. Human Nature
The state in commissioning its judges has commanded them to judge, but neither in constitution nor in statute has it formulated a code to define the manner of their judging. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The supreme rule of the road is the rule of mutual forbearance. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The thirst for vengeance is a very real, even if a hideous, thing; and states may not ignore it till humanity has been raised to greater heights than any that have yet been scaled in all the long ages of struggle and ascent. Capital Punishment, Dealth Penalty & State Execution
There comes not seldom a crisis in the life of men, of nations, and of worlds, when the old forms seem ready to decay, and the old rules of action have lost their binding force. The evils of existing systems obscure the blessings that attend them; and, where reform is needed, the cry is raised for subversion Religion & God
We may try to see things as objectively as we please. None the less, we can never see them with any eyes except our own. Human Nature
What is the use of striving for standards of judicial propriety if [we] condone such lapses! It would have been bad enough if [the magistrate] had been a Gentile; but for a Jew it was unforgivable. Discrimination & Prejudice
Whatever is a privilege rather than a right, may be made dependent upon citizenship. Citizenship & Patriotism
History or custom or social utility or some compelling sense of justice or sometimes perhaps a semi-intuitive apprehension of the pervading spirit of our law must come to the rescue of the anxious judge and tell him where to go. History
I own that it is a good deal of a mystery to me how judges, of all persons in the world, should put their faith in dicta. A brief experience on the bench was enough to reveal to me all sorts of cracks and crevices and loopholes in my own opinions when picked up a few months after delivery and reread with due contrition. Religion & God
I take judge-made law as one of the existing realities of life. Life
In law, as in every other branch of knowledge, the truths given by induction tend to form the premises for new deductions. The lawyers and the judges of successive generations do not repeat for themselves the process of verification any more than most of us repeat the demonstrations of the truths of astronomy or physics. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Lawsuits are rare and catastrophic experiences for the vast majority of men, and even when the catastrophe ensues, the controversy relates most often not to the law, but to the facts. In countless litigations, the law Is so clear that judges have no discretion.
Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions.
Method is much, technique is much, but inspiration is even more.
Prophecy, however honest, is generally a poor substitute for experience.
The constant assumption runs throughout the law that the natural and spontaneous evolutions of habit fix the limits of right and wrong.
The Constitution overrides a statute, but a statute, if consistent with the Constitution, overrides the law of judges. In this sense, judge-made law is secondary and subordinate to the law that is made by legislators.
The judge is not the knight-errant, roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideal of beauty or of goodness.
The outstanding truths of life, the great and unquestioned phenomena of society, are not to be argued away as myths and vagaries when they do not fit within our little moulds. If necessary, we must remake the moulds. Society ;Life
The risk to be percieved defines the duty to be obeyed.
The rules and principles of case law have never been treated as final truths but as working hypotheses, continually retested in those great laboratories of the law, the courts of justice. Every new case is an experiment, and if the accepted rule which seems applicable yields a result which is felt to be unjust, the rule is reconsidered.
The work of deciding cases goes on every day in hundreds of courts throughout the land. Any judge, one might suppose, would find it easy to describe the process which he had followed a thousand times and more. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Truth ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
There are vogues and fashions in jurisprudence as in literature and art and dress. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
There comes not seldom a crisis in the life of men, of nations, and of worlds, when the old forms seem ready to decay, and the old rules of action have lost their binding force. The evils of existing systems obscure the blessings that attend them, and, where reform is needed, the cry is raised for subversion. Life
There is in each of us a stream of tendency, whether you choose to call it philosophy or not, which gives coherence and direction to thought and action. Judges cannot escape that current any more than other mortals.
To the question how one kind of labor can be measured against another, how the labor of the artisan can be measured against the labor of the artist, how the labor of the strong can be measured against the labor of the weak, the communists can give no answer.