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#160 – Felix Frankfurter

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https://www.history.com/topics/us-government/felix-frankfurter

 

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Frankfurter took a special leave from Harvard to serve as special assistant to the Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. He was appointed Judge Advocate General, supervising military courts-martial for the War Department.1https://archive.org/details/peopleshistoryof00iron

In September 1917, he was appointed counsel to a commission, the President’s Mediation Committee, established by President Wilson to resolve major strikes threatening war production. Overall, Frankfurter’s work gave him an opportunity to learn firsthand about labor politics and extremism, including anarchism, communism, and revolutionary socialism. Former President Theodore Roosevelt accused him of being “engaged in excusing men precisely like the Bolsheviki in Russia.”

Frankfurter was encouraged by the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis to become more involved in Zionism. With Brandeis he lobbied President Wilson to support the Balfour Declaration, a British government statement supporting the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.2https://books.google.com/books?id=T91sokr_nJYC&q=felix+frankfurter&pg=PA112 In 1918, he participated in the founding conference of the American Jewish Congress in Philadelphia, creating a national democratic organization of Jewish leaders from all over the U.S.3https://web.archive.org/web/20071212030021/https://time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,788721,00.html In 1919, Frankfurter served as a Zionist delegate to the Paris Peace Conference.

#159 – Louis Brandeis

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Brandeis was being called “the people’s lawyer.” He no longer accepted payment for “public interest” cases even when they required pleading before judges, legislative committees, or administrative agencies. He began to give his opinion by writing magazine articles, making speeches, and helping form interest groups. He insisted on serving without pay so that he could freely address the wider issues involved beyond the case at hand. 1Klebanow, Diana, and Jonas, Franklin L. People’s Lawyers: Crusaders for Justice in American History, M.E. Sharpe (2003)

Although originally a La Follette Republican, Brandeis switched to the Democrats and urged his friends and associates to join him.2https://books.google.com/books?id=hh2WpPTG53sC&pg=PA76#v=onepage&q&f=false3https://books.google.com/books?id=hh2WpPTG53sC&pg=PA76#v=onepage&q&f=false The two men (Wilson & Brandeis) met for the first time at a private conference in New Jersey that August and spent three hours discussing economic issues. Brandeis left the meeting a “confirmed admirer” of Wilson, who he said was likely to make an “ideal president.” 4Mason, Thomas A. Brandeis: A Free Man’s Life, Viking Press (1946)

On January 28, 1916, Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.5https://www.nytimes.com/1916/01/29/archives/brandeis-named-for-highest-court-will-be-opposed-president.html His nomination was bitterly contested and denounced by conservative Republicans. Further opposition came from members of the legal profession, claiming Brandeis was “unfit” to serve on the Supreme Court.

#7 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Update: Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an American lawyer and jurist who currently serves as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg to her current position by then-president Bill Clinton. On August 10, 1993, she was sworn into office as the second female to ever hold that position. From 2006 to 2009, Ginsburg was the only female in the court.1https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/03/ruth-bader-ginsburg-court-1479994 During this period, she became more outspoken in her dissents, which was noted by both legal observers and the general public.

 

Ginsburg is considered a liberal judge; during the Trump presidency, she is doing everything she can to maintain he position as the courts liberal leader. Otherwise, she may be replaced by a conservative candidate.2https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/20/ruth-bader-ginsburg-supreme-courts-liberal-leader-unbowed-cancer/2367040001/

 

RBG was born in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, and went on to study law at Harvard. She ended up transferring to Columbia Law School, and graduated in a tie for first in her class. She then turned to academia, becoming a professor at Rutger’s Law School as well as Columbia Law School, where she taught civil procedure. She was quite notably one of the few women in her field.

 

Ginsburg has advocated for the advancement of gender equality and womens rights for a considerable part of her legal career. She has won multiple victories regarding those and other civil rights in Supreme Court arguments.

 

In United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), Ginsburg authored the majority opinion that the Virginia Military Insitute would have to end it’s males-only admission policy. The reasoning used was that the institute did not have a compelling reason to segregate it’s facilities based on gender, and thus violated the 14th amendment. 3https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/518/515/

 

In the past few years, Ginsburg’s health has been endangered by a series of hospitalizations4https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/23/ruth-bader-ginsburg-taken-to-hospital-073147, most recently a gallstone.5https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/05/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-hospitalized-239369 She has made it out of each one declaring herself determined to continue her fight for equality and justice.

 

 

 

 

Sources

Dugyala, Rishika. “RBG Recalls ‘Lonely’ Days on Bench.” POLITICO, 4 Sept. 2019, www.politico.com/story/2019/09/03/ruth-bader-ginsburg-court-1479994.
Wolf, Richard. “After Cancer, Supreme Court’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hits the Road to Prove Her Vitality — and Longevity.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 20 Sept. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/20/ruth-bader-ginsburg-supreme-courts-liberal-leader-unbowed-cancer/2367040001/.
“United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).” Justia Law, supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/518/515/.
Semones, Evan. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized with ‘Chills and Fever’.” POLITICO, 23 Nov. 2019, www.politico.com/news/2019/11/23/ruth-bader-ginsburg-taken-to-hospital-073147.
Gerstein, Josh. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized.” POLITICO, 5 May 2020, www.politico.com/news/2020/05/05/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-hospitalized-239369.

#6 – Elena Kagan

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Elena Kagan is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was nominated by 51st President Barack Obama in May 2010. She is the fourth woman to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court.

 

After graduating from Princeton University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School, she worked as a clerk for a federal Court of Appeals judge, as well as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

 

She launched her career as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Later, she left to serve as an Associate White House Counsel, and eventually became a policy adviser under then-President Bill Clinton. She also worked as a professor at Harvard Law School, where she came to be named as its first female dean.

 

In her first term on the court, Kagan did not write any separate opinions and wrote the fewest opinions of any Justice on the court. She only wrote majority opinions or dissents assigned to her by more senior justices. This impacted her ability to write her own opinions in the future and distinguish herself from the rest of the group.1https://web.archive.org/web/20120207154501/http://nymag.com/news/politics/elena-kagan-2011-12/index3.htmlShe wrote the fewest opinions from the period of 2011 to 2014.2https://web.archive.org/web/20180929080427/http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/final-october-term-2012-stat-pack/3https://web.archive.org/web/20180929080345/http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/final-stat-pack-for-october-term-2013-and-key-takeaways-2/4https://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SB_totalauthorship_OT14.pdf

 

Justice Kagan dissented in the case “Luis v. United States”, where the five-justice majority held that the pre-trial freezing of untainted assets not traced back to criminal activity was a violation of a defendant’s sixth amendment right to counsel. 5https://web.archive.org/web/20181123200720/https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/03/30/a-most-interesting-supreme-court-lineup/ The defendant, Sila Luis had been charged with Medicare fraud, in which prosecutors alleged he illegally charged $45mil for unneeded services.6https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/us/politics/supreme-court-rules-against-freezing-assets-not-tied-to-crimes.html Kagan dissented, in Luis’s favor, because she did not think criminal defendants should be treated differently based on how quickly they spent their illegal proceeds. 7https://web.archive.org/web/20181122092357/https://thinkprogress.org/justice-kagan-just-wrote-the-most-interesting-scotus-opinion-of-the-year-863b2d3552e8/

 

 

 

Sources

“Her Honor.” NYMag.com, web.archive.org/web/20120207154501/nymag.com/news/politics/elena-kagan-2011-12/index3.html.
Kedar-Bhatia. “Final October Term 2012 Stat Pack.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 9 Sept. 2013, web.archive.org/web/20180929080427/www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/final-october-term-2012-stat-pack/.
Kedar-Bhatia. “Final Stat Pack for October Term 2013 and Key Takeaways.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 3 July 2014, web.archive.org/web/20180929080345/www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/final-stat-pack-for-october-term-2013-and-key-takeaways-2/.
Adler, Jonathan. “Opinion | A Most Interesting Supreme Court Lineup.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Mar. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/03/30/a-most-interesting-supreme-court-lineup/.
Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Rules Against Freezing Assets Not Tied to Crimes.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Mar. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/us/politics/supreme-court-rules-against-freezing-assets-not-tied-to-crimes.html.
Twitter, Ian Millhiser. “Justice Kagan Just Wrote The Most Interesting SCOTUS Opinion Of The Year.” ThinkProgress, 31 Mar. 2016, www.thinkprogress.org/justice-kagan-just-wrote-the-most-interesting-scotus-opinion-of-the-year-863b2d3552e8/.

#5 – Stephen Breyer

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Stephen Gerald Breyer is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. A lawyer by occupation, he became a professor and jurist before then-president Bill Clinton appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1994. Breyer is generally associated with his more liberal side.1https://web.archive.org/web/20171226033939/https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&httpsredir=1&article=5339&context=uclrev

 

Breyer served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg during 1964, and served briefly as a fact-checker for the Warren commission. He worked in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as a special assistant to Attorney general from 1965 to 1967, with many more achievements under his belt.2https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx

 

In an interview on Fox News Sundays, Breyer claimed that based on the values and historical record, the founding Fathers of the United States never intended guns to go unregulated, and that that history supports his views. He summarized it by saying. “We’re acting as judges. If we’re going to decide everything on the basis of history – by the way, what is the scope of the right to keep and bear arms? Machine guns? Torpedoes? Handguns? Are you a sportsman? Do you like to shoot pistols at targets? Well, get on a subway and go to Maryland. There is no problem, I don’t think, for anyone who really wants to have a gun.”3https://www.foxnews.com/politics/breyer-founding-fathers-would-have-allowed-restrictions-on-guns#content

 

Additionally, Justice Breyer voted for gay marriage with the majority Supreme Court opinion in June 2015. Time Magazine states: “Left-leaning Breyer and Sotomayor sided against DOMA in 2013”4https://time.com/3672426/supreme-court-gay-marriage-justices/

 

 

 

Sources

Frizell, Sam. “Here’s What 5 Supreme Court Justices Have Said About Gay Marriage.” Time, Time, 17 Jan. 2015, time.com/3672426/supreme-court-gay-marriage-justices/.
Fox News. “Breyer: Founding Fathers Would Have Allowed Restrictions on Guns.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 2 Feb. 2015, www.foxnews.com/politics/breyer-founding-fathers-would-have-allowed-restrictions-on-guns#content.
United States Government. “Current Members.” Home – Supreme Court of the United States, www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx.
Kersch, Ken I. “Justice Breyer’s Mandarin Liberty.” Wayback Machine, web.archive.org/web/20171226033939/chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&httpsredir=1&article=5339&context=uclrev.