Remarks of the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. upon Receiving the Learned Hand Medal at the Law Day Dinner, May 1, 2002

By Walker, John M., Jr. | St. John's Law Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Remarks of the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. upon Receiving the Learned Hand Medal at the Law Day Dinner, May 1, 2002


Walker, John M., Jr., St. John's Law Review


REMARK

REMARKS OF THE HONORABLE JOHN M. WALKER, JR.^ UPON RECEIVING THE LEARNED HAND MEDAL AT THE LAW DAY DINNER, MAY 1, 2002^^

Two generations ago, in the midst of another war, Judge Learned Hand memorably spoke of the spirit of liberty.1 I think it is fitting tonight, in these trying times, on the occasion of Law Day, to pause and to reflect upon our precious liberty under law and how it has endured. My brief message tonight is not complicated. Our liberty endures because it has always been, and must continue to be, tempered by a wise restraint.

Learned Hand gave eloquent expression to the idea of restraint. I will say a few words about that and about the circumstances in which he made his remarks. I will also touch upon three types of restraint in the law.

The first restraint is the restraint on liberty itself-we are not free, for example, to harm others. The second restraint is the restraint on governmental power that is spelled out in the IMAGE FORMULA6

Constitution. The third restraint is judicial restraint. It is a self-imposed restraint and it is of particular importance on this day, Law Day, and to this audience composed of accomplished judges and lawyers. I believe this third restraint to be the most critical of the three because it is the most vulnerable to abuse and because it is so essential to the well-being of the republic.

Let me begin with a few words about Judge Learned Hand, in whose name this award is given, and about the moment in time at which he spoke of the spirit of liberty. Judge Hand is widely considered to have been one of the four greatest judges of the first half of the twentieth century. The other three, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Benjamin Cardozo, and Louis Brandeis were all Supreme Court Justices. Judge Hand's career was here in the Second Circuit.

Learned Hand became a federal judge in 1909 and served for fifty-two years, first on the district court and then on the court of appeals.2 He made his mark as a great judge, not with a few grand decisions, but because his passion for the law was felt in every case and because he wrote his opinions with an almost poetic clarity. Judge Henry Friendly, who sat with Learned Hand in his last years, remembered the "great way in which [Hand] dealt with a multitude of little cases, covering almost every subject in the legal lexicon. Repeatedly he would make the tiniest glow-worm illumine a whole field."3

Learned Hand's reputation as a judge shone brightly; however, for most of his career it was largely confined to those within the profession, particularly the bench and bar of the Second Circuit. All that changed in May 1944 when Learned Hand delivered his speech on the spirit of liberty.

The occasion was a patriotic naturalization ceremony in Central Park for over 150,000 immigrants. It was attended by hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom came to enjoy a sunny Sunday in the park.4 Hand's brief speech, 519 words, was widely publicized and Judge Hand became nationally known and IMAGE FORMULA9

admired for it.5

Learned Hand's message on that spring day fifty-eight years ago was that the spirit of liberty lies in the hearts of the men and women of America and that, at its essence, American liberty under law was a spirit of restraint-restraint on individuals and on government alike.6 He made it clear, and I quote, that the spirit of liberty "is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow."7

This was a lesson that Judge Hand, and his listeners, knew all too well. Fascism had conquered Europe; communism had seized Russia; and Japanese militarism had subjugated the Far East.

For Learned Hand, the ideological certainty of totalitarianism was the antithesis of the spirit of liberty. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Remarks of the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. upon Receiving the Learned Hand Medal at the Law Day Dinner, May 1, 2002
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.