Felix Frankfurter

Felix Frankfurter, 1882–1965, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1939–62), b. Vienna, Austria. He emigrated to the United States as a boy and later received (1906) his law degree from Harvard law school. He was assistant U.S. attorney (1906–10) in New York state and legal officer (1911–14) in the Bureau of Insular Affairs. A professor (1914–39) at Harvard law school, Frankfurter was also active during these years outside the academic world. A frequent appointee to special government posts, he fought for the release of Sacco and Vanzetti, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and played an important part in staffing the agencies of the New Deal. His appointment by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the U.S. Supreme Court brought a man of marked liberal tendencies to the high bench; but Frankfurter was also a firm adherent of judicial restraint. Although much concerned with fair legal procedure, he upheld legislation limiting civil liberties in the belief that the government has a right to protect itself through investigative committees and legislation, and that the court must exercise self-restraint in interfering with the popular will as expressed by its representatives. Among his works are The Public and Its Government (1930), The Commerce Clause under Marshall, Taney, and Waite (1937), and Of Law and Men (1956). His lectures appear in Law and Politics, ed. by Archibald MacLeish and E. F. Pritchard (1939, repr. 1962).

See also his reminiscences, ed. by H. B. Phillips (1960, repr. 1962); his correspondence with F. D. Roosevelt, ed. by M. Freedman (1967), and with O. W. Holmes, ed. by R. M. Mennel and C. L. Compston (1996); biography by L. Baker (1969); studies by H. S. Thomas (1960) and P. B. Kurland (1971); W. Mendelson, ed., Felix Frankfurter (2 vol., 1964) and Justices Black and Frankfurter (2d ed. 1966); N. Feldman, Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Felix Frankfurter: Selected full-text books and articles

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions By Leon Friedman; Fred L. Israel Chelsea House, vol.3, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Felix Frankfurter" begins on p. 1199
Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938 By Felix Frankfurter; E. F. Prichard Jr.; Archibald MacLeish P. Smith, 1971
Who Owns Judaism? Public Religion and Private Faith in America and Israel By Eli Lederhendler Oxford University Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: "Frankfurter among the Anarchists: The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti" begins on p. 175
Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court By Henry J. Abraham Oxford University Press, 1992 (3rd edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Felix Frankfurter begins on p. 220
Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases By Bernard Schwartz Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Goldberg for Frankfurter" begins on p. 215
A Representative Supreme Court? The Impact of Race, Religion, and Gender on Appointments By Barbara A. Perry Greenwood Press, 1991
Librarian's tip: "Felix Frankfurter" begins on p. 70
27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective By Raymond Moley Funk & Wagnalls, 1949
Librarian's tip: "Holmes and the Sorcerer's Apprentices: Felix Frankfurter" begins on p. 151
Reconsidering the Law of Democracy: Of Political Questions, Prudence, and the Judicial Role By Fuentes-Rohwer, Luis William and Mary Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 6, April 2006
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