Louis D. Brandeis

(Louis Dembitz Brandeis)

Louis D. Brandeis
Louis D. Brandeis
  • Born: November 13, 1856
  • Died: October 5, 1941
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Judge

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Louis Dembitz Brandeis was an American lawyer and associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents from Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), who raised him in a secular home. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of 20 with what is widely rumored to be the highest grade average in the law school's history. Brandeis settled in Boston, where he founded a law firm (that is still in practice today as Nutter McClennen & Fish) and became a recognized lawyer through his work on progressive social causes.

Quotes About
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Quotes
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... all of our human experience shows that no one with absolute power can be trusted to give it up even in part. Power
[Assessing William Howard Taft:] It is very difficult for me to understand how a man who is so good as Chief Justice could have been so bad as President. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
A single courageous state can if its citizen’s choose, serve as a laboratory…. One of the happy incidents of the federal system … novel social and economic experiments can be tried without risk to the rest of the country. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
All law is a dead letter without public opinion behind it. Public Opinion & Polling
America has believed that in differentiation, not uniformity, lies the path of progress. Development & Growth
America's insistent demand in the twentieth century is for social justice. Justice & Injustice
Any who wield a large amount of power should always feel the check of power. The very principle on which the nation exists is that no person shall rise above power. Power
As judges we are neither Jew nor gentile, neither Catholic nor agnostic …. As a member of this court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
At the foundation of our civil liberties lies the principle that denies to government officials an exceptional position before the law and which subjects them to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Be most on guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Freedom & Liberty
Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Democracy is moral before it is political. Democracies & Republics
Democracy means not merely, I had almost said not so much, the rights of the whole people, as the duties of the whole people. Democracies & Republics
Democracy substitutes self-restraint for external restraint. It is more difficult to maintain than to achieve. Democracies & Republics
Despotism, be it financial or political, is vulnerable, unless it is believed to rest upon a moral sanction. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Discrimination is the act of treating differently two persons or things, under like circumstances. Discrimination & Prejudice
Don't assume that the interests of employer and employee are necessarily hostile—that what is good for one is necessarily bad for the other. The opposite is more apt to be the case. While they have different interests, they are likely to prosper or suffer together. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Efficiency does not grow indefinitely with increasing size. Business, Commerce & Finance
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent…the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. Freedom & Liberty
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Freedom & Liberty
Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Freedom & Liberty
Getting an advantage at the expense of somebody else—that really is what graft is. Corruption
Government is not an exact science. Management & Managing Government
Hate menaces stable government … Discrimination & Prejudice
I have not much faith in "good government." What we need is the development of the individual. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
I should not rely on the goodness of heart of anybody. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
In differentiation, not uniformity, lies the path of progress. Development & Growth
It is hazardous to discourage thought, hope or imagination … Miscellaneous
It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country. Intergovernmental Relations
It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Labor cannot on any terms surrender the right to strike. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Liberty is the great developer. Development & Growth
Liquor drinking is not a wrong; but excessive drinking is. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
Man is as the Lord made him. But we can change our institutions. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Most of the things worth doing in the world have been declared impossible before they were done. Miscellaneous
My objection to interlocking directorates is not on the assumption that men mean to do wrong. It is because it is humanly impossible for a man representing conflicting interests on two boards and do right by both, no matter how pure his purpose is. Business, Commerce & Finance
Neither the common law nor the Fourteenth Amendment confers the absolute right to strike. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence. War & Peace
No regulation can be enforced which is not reasonable.... Unenforceable or harassing laws tend to make criminals. Legislating & Legislative Process
No system of regulation can safely be substituted for the operation of individual liberty as expressed in competition. Regulation & Deregulation
Nobody ought to be absolute; everybody ought to be protected against arbitrariness and wrong decisions by the representations of others who are being affected. Lobbying & Special Interests
Organization can never be a substitute for initiative and for judgment. Management & Managing Government
Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It Money, Coins & Minting
Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Politicians, even if their motives are not of the purest, come much nearer performing their duties than the so-called "good" citizens who stay at home [on Election Day.] Voters, Voting & Elections
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policemen. Miscellaneous
Secrecy necessarily breeds suspicion. Secrecy & Transparency
Self-respect and prosperity are the most effective guardian of morals. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Silence coerced by law—the argument of force in its worst form. Power
Stare decisis is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right. ... But in cases involving the Federal Constitution, where correction through legislative action is practically impossible, this Court has often overruled its earlier decisions. ... This is strikingly true of cases under the due process clause. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The conflict between the policies of the administration and the desires of the financiers of big business is an irreconcilable one. Concessions to the big business interests must, in the end, prove futile. Lobbying & Special Interests
The Constitution preserves the autonomy and independence of the States; “federal supervision of their action” is in no case permissible except as to matters specifically delegated to the United States. Any interference . . . except as thus permitted is an invasion of the authority of the States Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The Depression has caused an emergency more serious than war. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The doctrine of separation of powers as adopted by the [Constitutional] Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy. Power
The dominant reasons for the opposition to the confirmation of Mr. Brandeis are that he is considered a radical and is a Jew. Discrimination & Prejudice
The federal constitution is perhaps the greatest of human experiments. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions — knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions and ideas — become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use. Copyrights, Patents & Intellectual Property
The goose that lays the golden egg has been considered a most valuable possession. But even more profitable is the privilege of taking the golden eggs laid by somebody else's goose. The investment bankers and their associates now enjoy that privilege. They control the people through the people's own money. Business, Commerce & Finance
The government may set decoys to entrap criminals. But it may nor provoke or create a crime, and then punish the criminal, its creature. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The great happiness in life is not to donate but to serve. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
The logic of words should yield to the logic of realities. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
The most important office, ... that of private citizen. Citizenship & Patriotism
The old idea of a good bargain was a transaction in which one man got the better of another. The new idea of a good contract is a transaction which is good for both parties to it.. Negotiating & Negotiations
The right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the most valued by civilized men. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
The right to speak freely concerning functions of the Federal Government is a privilege of immunity of every citizen of the United States which, even before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, a State was powerless to curtail. Citizenship & Patriotism
The wastes of democracy are among the greatest obvious wastes, but we have compensations in democracy which far outweigh that waste and make it more efficient than absolutism. Democracies & Republics ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
There are many men now living who were in the habit of using the age-old expression: 'It is as impossible as flying.' The discoveries in physical science, the triumphs in invention, attest the value of the process of trial and error. In large measure, these advances have been due to experimentation. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
There is in essence no difference between a sealed letter and a telephone call. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
There is in most Americans some spark of idealism, which can be fanned into a flame. It takes sometimes a divining rod to find what it is; but when found, and that means often, when disclosed to the owners, the results are often extraordinary. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
There must be reasonable restrictions upon competition else we shall see competition destroyed. Business, Commerce & Finance
Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. Freedom & Liberty
To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists. Citizenship & Patriotism
To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Upon the state falls directly the ... burden of the demoralization of its citizenry and of the social unrest which attend destitution and the denial of opportunity. Poverty
We are much in the position of those who love peace so much that they are ready to fight for it. War & Peace
We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both. Democracies & Republics
We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Democracies & Republics
We must be ever on our guard, lest we erect our prejudices into legal principles. Legislating & Legislative Process
We need leisure ... because with us every man is of the ruling class. Parks & Recreation
A man is a better citizen of the United States for being also a loyal citizen of his state and of his city; for being loyal to his family and to his profession or trade; for being loyal to his college or his lodge. Families, Children & Parenting
America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered. Happiness & Unhappiness
Behind every argument is someone's ignorance.
Democracy rests upon two pillars: one, the principle that all men are equally entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and the other, the conviction that such equal opportunity will most advance civilization. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
During most of my life, my contact with Jews and Judaism was slight. I gave little thought to their problems, save in asking myself, from time to time, whether we were showing by our lives due appreciation of the opportunities which this hospitable country affords. My approach to Zionism was through Americanism. Life ;Time
Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Government
Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. Women ;History
However great his outward conformity, the immigrant is not Americanized unless his interests and affections have become deeply rooted here. And we properly demand of the immigrant even more than this. He must be brought into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations and cooperate with us for their attainment.
I abhor averages. I like the individual case. A man may have six meals one day and none the next, making an average of three meals per day, but that is not a good way to live.
If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable. Respect ;Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
If we would guide by the light of reason we must let our minds be bold.
If you would only recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you. Life
In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.
It is not wealth, it is not station, it is not social standing and ambition which can make us worthy of the Jewish name, of the Jewish heritage. To be worthy of them, we must live up to and with them. We must regard ourselves their custodians.
Let no American imagine that Zionism is inconsistent with patriotism. Multiple loyalties are objectionable only if they are inconsistent. Citizenship & Patriotism
Men long for an afterlife in which there apparently is nothing to do but delight in heaven's wonders.
Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done. History
Organisation can never be a substitute for initiative and for judgement.
Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Government
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
The difference between a nation and a nationality is clear, but it is not always observed. Likeness between members is the essence of nationality, but the members of a nation may be very different. A nation may be composed of many nationalities, as some of the most successful nations are.
The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
The most important political office is that of the private citizen. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The world presents enough problems if you believe it to be a world of law and order; do not add to them by believing it to be a world of miracles.
There are no shortcuts in evolution. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Those who won our independence... valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. Happiness & Unhappiness ;Independence
To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure conviction of a private criminal would bring terrible retribution. Government
We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.
We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.
What are the American ideals? They are the development of the individual for his own and the common good; the development of the individual through liberty; and the attainment of the common good through democracy and social justice.
What is Americanization? It manifests itself, in a superficial way, when the immigrant adopts the clothes, the manners and the customs generally prevailing here. Far more important is the manifestation presented when he substitutes for his mother tongue the English language as the common medium of speech.
When those of Jewish blood exhibit moral or intellectual superiority, genius or special talent, we feel pride in them, even if they have abjured the faith like Spinoza, Marx, Disraeli or Heine. Despite the meditations of pundits or the decrees of council, our own instincts and acts, and those of others, have defined for us the term 'Jew.' Religion & God