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Louis D. Brandeis (1846–1941)

Portrait of Louis D. Brandeis by painter Joseph Teper, 1939. Photoengraving on paper. Harvard Law School Library.

As a successful lawyer and supporter of reform movements of the period, Louis Brandeis argued important public-interest and labor-reform cases and later became one of the most celebrated Justices in the history of the Supreme Court.

Brandeis was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1856. His parents, Adolph and Frederika, emigrated from Germany during the European Revolutions of 1848. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he remained in Boston and developed a successful legal practice. In 1907, Brandeis's sister-in-law Josephine Goldmark, along with Florence Kelley, head of the National Consumers League, asked Brandeis to defend Oregon's maximum hour law for women in Muller v. State of Oregon, which was to be appealed before the Supreme Court. Brandeis agreed to take the case and produced what is now called the "Brandeis brief," a statement of the law's constitutionality followed by over 100 pages of research data supporting the legislature's conclusion. In early 1908, the Court unanimously upheld the Oregon law's constitutionality.

In 1916, Brandeis was nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson. He served on the Court for nearly 23 years, retiring in early 1939.

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