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Louis Brandeis (1856 – 1941)


Important American litigator, Supreme Court Justice, advocate of privacy, and developer of the Brandeis Brief.
Louis Brandeis
The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world . . . ."
Brandeis quotes
To Brandeis, as to Jefferson, the key to a successful democracy lies in the spirit, the vitality, the daring, the inventiveness of its citizens.
Brandeis
[Brandeis] did not believe with the evangelist that . . . truth could be found by abiding in the Word or in becoming the disciple of any leader. Neither did he think it came from intuition or from speculation in metaphysics. He thought it could and would come only from the relentless, disinterested and critical study of facts.




Brandeis Louis quotes
The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and, hence to be borne with resignation.
Brandeis Louis
The progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions. 'That places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer' was said by James Otis of much lesser intrusions than these. 1 To Lord Camden a far slighter intrusion seemed 'subversive of all the comforts of society.' Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security?
Louis Brandeis quotes
Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.
Louis Brandeis
The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.
Brandeis Louis quotes
When a man feels that he cannot leave his work, it is a sure sign of an impending collapse.
Brandeis
Through size, corporations, once merely an efficient tool employed by individuals in the conduct of private business have become an institution-an institution which has brought such concentration of economic power that so-called private corporations are sometimes able to dominate the state. The typical business corporation of the last century, owned by a small group of individuals, managed by their owners, and limited in size by their private wealth, is being supplanted by huge concerns in which the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of employees and the property of tens of hundreds of thousands of investors are subjected, through the corporate mechanism, to the control of a few men. Ownership has been separated from control; and this separation has removed many of the checks which formerly operated to curb the misuse of wealth and power. And, as ownership of the shares is becoming continually more dispersed, the power which formerly accompanied ownership is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few... [and] coincident with the growth of these giant corporations, there has occurred a marked concentration of individual wealth; and that the resulting disparity in incomes is a major cause of the existing depression.
Brandeis Louis
Every case that fell to him for opinion gave fresh occasion for the application of his principle that knowledge must precede understanding, and understanding should precede judging.
Louis Brandeis
Strong, responsible unions are essential to industrial fair play. Without them the labor bargain is wholly one-sided. The parties to the labor contract must be nearly equal in strength if justice is to be worked out, and this means that the workers must be organized and that their organizations must be recognized by employers as a condition precedent to industrial peace.




Louis Brandeis quotes
There are many men now living who were in the habit of using the age-old expression: 'It is as impossible as flying.' The discoveries in physical science, the triumphs in invention, attest the value of the process of trial and error. In large measure, these advances have been due to experimentation.
Louis Brandeis
The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions -- knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas -- become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.
Brandeis quotes
In a time of moral and intellectual anarchy, he handed on the great tradition of faith in the mind and spirit of man.
Brandeis Louis
What I have desired to do is to make the people of Boston realize that the most important office, and the one which all of us can and should fill, is that of private citizen. The duties of the office of private citizen cannot under a republican form of government be neglected without serious injury to the public.
Brandeis Louis quotes
Real success in business is to be found in achievements comparable rather with those of the artist or the scientist, of the inventor or statesman. And the joys sought in the profession of business must be like their joys and not the mere vulgar satisfaction which is experienced in the acquisition of money, in the exercise of power or in the frivolous pleasure of mere winning.
Louis Brandeis
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Louis Brandeis quotes
Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means -- to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.
Louis Brandeis
At the foundation of our civil liberty lies the principle which denies to government officials an exceptional position before the law and which subjects them to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen.
Brandeis Louis
Constitutional rights should not be frittered away by arguments so technical and unsubstantial.


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