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Louis D. Brandeis, ca. 1910

Louis D. Brandeis, ca. 1910

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Louis D. Brandeis, ca. 1910

Furious Confirmation Battle 1916

Louis D. Brandeis—called the “People’s Lawyer”— had built a national reputation by fighting monopolies and defending consumers. He also was the first person of Jewish descent nominated to the Supreme Court. In the furious 1916 confirmation battle, opponents of the controversial lawyer, some veiling their anti-Semitism, called Brandeis a dangerous radical lacking judicial temperament.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held unprecedented public hearings on the Brandeis nomination. Prominent witnesses assailed Brandeis as unfit to serve. President Woodrow Wilson staunchly defended his nominee as “a friend of all just men and a lover of the right.” The Senate ultimately confirmed Brandeis by a vote of 47–22. During his 23 years on the bench, Louis Brandeis earned a place as one of the Supreme Court’s most respected and influential members.

"... a friend of all just men and a lover of the right."
—President Woodrow Wilson, describing Louis D. Brandeis, May 5, 1916