Brandeis and Harlan Watch

A current awareness tool dedicated to highlighting appearances of Louis D. Brandeis of John Marshall Harlan in scholarly journals and the media. If you know of any new articles, web pages, etc. featuring Brandeis or Harlan that you want me to list here, email me and tell me about them.

Brandeis Documentary Showing on PBS


"Louis Brandeis: The People's Attorney," a new documentary about Brandeis has been popping up on PBS stations across the country. The documentary was commissioned by the Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts (aka SBLI) in honor of their 100th anniversary. Brandeis, among his many other accomplishments, created the system of savings bank life insurance in Massachusetts and was one of the founders of SBLI. The hour long documentary provides a good overview of Brandeis' life with a slight emphasis on his days in Boston. It is notable for having some rare moving image footage of Brandeis as well as having some local luminaries as talking heads, particularly Rabbi Joe Rapport and Laura Rothstein, former Dean of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. It will be shown in the Louisville area on KET1 on January 8 at 9:00 pm and on January 11 at 4:00 am, and on KET2 on January 14 at 10:00 pm.

SBLI has a 4 minute preview of the documentary here.


"Other People's Money" and Healthcare Nonprofits


A recent article in the Nebraska Law Review by University of Kentucky Nicole Huberfeld applies Brandeis' classic treatise against interlocking directories in a look at the management of nonprofit healthcare compaines. "Other People's Money" and other aspects of Brandeis' economic philosophy has been getting a lot of bashing from Chicago School economists and legal theorists so it's nice to see that some people still see it's relevance.


Nicole Huberfeld, Tackling the "Evils" of Interlocking Directrories in Healthcare Nonprofits, 85 Nebraska L.J. 681 (2007).

You can download it here:


Other People's Money is also available on the internet:

Brandeis as Dissenter in Journal of Supreme Court History


Brandeis also gets his share of the spotlight in the Dissenters issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History in Jonathan Lurie's article "Chief Justice Taft and Dissents: Down With the Brandeis Briefs!" The article is a preview of Lurie's upcoming biography of Taft and is basically a panegyric to Taft's days as Chief Justice. The article details Taft's efforts to foster unanimity on opinions and the reactions of the other justices--particularly Brandeis-- to those efforts. My favorite part of the article is the picture of Taft and six other justices looking at a model of the new Supreme Court building. The building was Taft's idea and Brandeis was vehemently opposed to it--in fact he never set foot in the office that was created for him. His disgust for the building is pretty evident from the look on his face in the picture.

Brandeis and Taft had a complicated relationship. Political foes (to put it mildly) while Taft was president, they were able to put aside their differences once they were both on the court and they even reached the point where they enjoyed each others' company. Still they often didn't see eye to eye and would often get frustrated with each other. Lurie cites some quotes by Taft on Brandeis but I wish he had included one of my favorite Brandeis quotes on Taft. In the 20's Felix Frankfurter wrote down some notes from private conversations he had with Brandeis. Those notes were later edited by Melvin Urofsky and published in the 1985 volume of the Supreme Court Review. Here's what Brandeis had to say there about Taft:

"It's astonishing he should have been such a horribly bad President, for he has considerable executive ability. The fact, probably, is that he cared about law all the time and nothing else. He has an excellent memory, makes quick decisions on questions of administration that arise and if a large output were the chief desideratum, he would be very good. He is a first-rate second-rate mind."

Harlan as Dissenter in Journal of Supreme Court History

The latest issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History (vol. 32, issue 2) is devoted to dissents and dissenters so naturally they have an article on John Marshall Harlan. Linda Przybyszewski wrote an article titled "The Dissents of John Marshall Harlan I," although it primarily about his dissents in Plessey v. Ferguson and the Civil Rights Cases. She provides an intersting answer to the often asked question of how a former slave holder came to be such an advocate for civil rights. Then there are other opinions that do not seem so enlightened these days...