Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941) is well known for his support of an individual’s right to privacy and free speech. His concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927) is considered by many to be one of the greatest defenses of freedom of speech ever written. What is less well known, however, is his dissenting opinion in Ruthenberg v. Michigan, a case that was dismissed when the petitioner, Charles Ruthenberg died. It was at that point that the companion case, Whitney v. California, became the focus and was tried before the United States Supreme Court. A review of Brandeis’ Ruthenberg dissent rewards the reader with a deeper knowledge of his thinking about these cases.
Image credit: Detail from Louis D. Brandeis Papers, 1881-1966. Box 44, folder 7, digital image sequence 128. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
The Louis D. Brandeis Papers held by the Harvard Law School Library include seven folders of drafts written by Brandeis for Ruthenberg v. Michigan. The multiple drafts provide remarkable insight into the thought process and working style of the Justice. The Law School is pleased to announce the digitization of this material.
Image credit: Detail from Louis D. Brandeis Papers, 1881-1966. Box 44, folder 5, digital image sequence 20. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Links to the images are available from the Brandeis Papers finding aid and the Law School’s Digital Collections page. The Digital Collections page also features an overview of Ruthenberg v. Michigan written by Ronald Collins of the University of Washington Law School and David Skover, of the Seattle University School of Law. The Law School greatly appreciates their contribution to this project.
Post contributed by Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives