01.06.

1916: Louis Dembitz Brandeis: The First Jew to be Appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

1916: Louis Dembitz Brandeis: The First Jew to be Appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 01 June 1916
  • As a lawyer, Louis Dembitz Brandeis was nicknamed "Robin Hood of the law", because he stood up for the lower layers of society against big businesses.

On this day in 1916, Louis Dembitz Brandeis became Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first Jew to hold that position. 

The Supreme Court of the United States has eight judges and it is interesting that they are appointed for life. They leave their office only in the event of death, retirement, or impeachment by the Congress.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis was originally from the Czech Republic. His parents were Ashkenazi Jews from Prague (like the famous writer Franz Kafka), who immigrated to the United States.

Brandeis was educated in the United States and completed legal studies at Harvard with the highest average grades in the law school’s history (his record was broken only 80 years later). As a lawyer, he was nicknamed “Robin Hood of the law”, because he stood up for the lower layers of society against big businesses.

He was nominated to become a member of the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson. Brandeis was a supporter of the Zionist movement, eventually becoming a renowned Zionist leader in the United States. At this position, he advocated the establishment of an independent Jewish state.

Towards the end of his life, another Jewish judge joined him in the Supreme Court, Benjamin N. Cardozo, of Sephardic background.

To this day, eight people of Jewish descent have held the function of a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and as many as three of them are in office today (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan).

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