Some Kind of Judge: Henry Friendly and the Law of Federal Courts

By Brecher, Aaron P. | Michigan Law Review, April 2014 | Go to article overview

Some Kind of Judge: Henry Friendly and the Law of Federal Courts


Brecher, Aaron P., Michigan Law Review


Some Kind of Judge: Henry Friendly and the Law of Federal Courts Henry Friendly, Greatest Judge of His Era. By David M. Dorsen. Fore- word by Richard A. Posner. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2012. Pp. xiii, 498. $35.

Introduction

Überfans of the federal judiciary owe a lot to David Dorsen.1 His illumi- nating biography of Judge Henry Friendly is a fitting tribute to the contribu- tions of a jurist that many consider to be among the finest judges never to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judicial biography is a difficult genre to do well,2 and most authors choose to focus on Supreme Court justices.3 But Henry Friendly, Greatest Judge of His Era is an excellent source of informa- tion on Friendly's life and, far more important, his views on the law and his relationships with some of the most fascinating figures in twentieth-century legal history.

Dorsen not only provides a detailed study of Friendly's life and career but he also uses the biography as a vehicle to explore the ways judges decide cases, the work of intermediate appellate courts, and Friendly's particular influence across many legal fields (p. 2). Dorsen devotes much of the book to demonstrating that Friendly was a "great" judge along a number of dimensions: his intelligence, productivity, professional accomplishments, approach to legal questions, and influence on the law (pp. 2-3). Dorsen contends that the "influence of a circuit judge on the development of federal law depends largely on whether other federal judges view his work as worth emulating. On that criterion, as well as others, Friendly demands attention" (p. 2).

Part I of this Notice briefly summarizes Dorsen's work, recounting the key facts of Friendly's life, his approach to judging, and those areas of the law most affected by Friendly's ideas. It concludes that Dorsen has indeed demonstrated Friendly's "greatness" to a certain degree. Part II explores Dorsen's notion of influence on the law by examining Friendly's impact on an area of law in which he was widely considered expert: federal jurisdiction. It expands Dorsen's conception of influence to include not only the extent to which subsequent judges have emulated Friendly but also the extent to which Friendly was a clear and forceful expounder of ideas that shaped the terms of the debate on issues of federal jurisdiction, even if his vision did not ultimately carry the day. Moreover, the relevant evaluators of influence should include Congress and academics in addition to other judges.

I. "Man for All Seasons in the Law"4

Henry Jacob Friendly was born in 1903 to a comfortably middle-class Jewish family in Elmira, New York (p. 6). In New York City in 1986, losing his sight and still mourning his wife Sophie's death a year earlier, he com- mitted suicide (p. 343). The years between these two events were marked by superlative academic and professional achievements juxtaposed against chronic bouts of melancholy, difficult relationships in his family life, and the cultivation of a famously gruff demeanor with subordinates and the lawyers who appeared before him. This Part focuses on Friendly's academic life and work as a judge.

Friendly's pre-judicial career would have been something to be proud of even if he had never ascended to the bench. After studying history at Harvard College, he attended Harvard Law School where he compiled one of the best, possibly the best, academic records in the school's history5 and served as president of the Harvard Law Review (pp. 12-27). Afterward, Friendly worked for Justice Brandeis as a clerk-a position for which Friendly's teacher Felix Frankfurter had selected him (pp. 26-27). Upon completing his clerkship, Friendly practiced law at Root, Clark, Buckner & Ballantine before leaving to found his own firm in 1946 with a number of other partners (pp. 1, 31-33, 50-51). That firm evolved into Cleary, Got- tlieb, Steen & Hamilton, which remains a Wall Street powerhouse today.

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 ...
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

Some Kind of Judge: Henry Friendly and the Law of Federal Courts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
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.