The Brandeis Stamp is Almost Out! September 22!
On September 22, the United States Postal Service will release a series of four new postage stamps commemmorating great United States Supreme Court Justices, including one featuring our namesake Louis D. Brandeis. The other honorees are William Brennan, Felix Frankfurter, and Joseph Story. A story in Legal Times discusses the offering and notes that Thurgood Marshall's son will be at the dedication, along with Chief Justice John Roberts. The selection is a bit odd (three 20th c. justices matched with the very 19th c. Joseph Story). The USPS website describes the collection, and gives bios documenting the prominence of each of the justices, but isn't completely clear on why why these four were picked.
Despite the existence of stamps issued for truckloads of presidents--even such nonentities as Millard Fillmore & John Tyler, both honored, perhaps ironically, in 1938--few Supreme Court justices have had the distinction of being memorialized on small, lickable pieces of gummed paper. John Marshall (1894) was the first to travel the mails, followed many years later by Harlan Fiske Stone (1948), John Jay (1958), Charles Evans Hughes (1962) and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1968). Hugo L. Black's mug (1986) graced packages of New Wave UK imports in the 1980s and the visage of Earl Warren (1992) was affixed to love letters traveling to wannabe brides in the former Soviet republics. Thurgood Marshall (2003) was likely the first self-adhesively stamped justice. Together, they numbered only eight Supreme Court related stamps for the first 200 years of the republic.* (And this counts John Jay, who is more known as a diplomat than for his brief time on the Court).
Let's hope this SCOTUS stamp trend continues until the third branch (including even its lesser lights) is as well represented as the more dangerous branches, and to the day that I can put a Sherman Minton on my outgoing eBay package alongside a Warren G. Harding. That would, indeed, be a good Constitution Day present.
* This accounting, for what it is worth, based on Wikipedia, "List of people on stamps of the United States," viewed Sept. 17, 2009.