A Compelling Study

By Brickner, Paul | Judicature, September/October 2007 | Go to article overview

A Compelling Study


Brickner, Paul, Judicature


A compelling study The Great Justices 1941-54: Black, Douglas, Frankfurter and Jackson in Chambers, by William Domnarski. University of Michigan Press. 2006. xii, 206 pages. $35.00.

William Domnarski, a practicing member of the California bar with a scholarly inclination, has written a compelling study of four great justices who served together during an important period in Supreme Court history, a period that begins after the Court had concluded its struggles with the constitutionality of FDR's depression era programs and ends on the eve of the Court's deciding the most important case of the 20th Century, Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The author holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of California. The doctorate leads to interesting observations that other attorneys and legal historians might omit. For example, one bibliographic reference is Shakespeare, W., Julius Caesar, 1599!!

The book is about four justices appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A fifth justice, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who preceded them, appears as a shadowy but strong figure. The first of Domnarski's four greats is also the first of FDR's eight Supreme Court appointees, Hugo Lafayette Black, who was appointed in 1937. Black, a man of humble origins, was a senator from Alabama, His nomination would not have survived in today's media glare because of his background as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Fortunately for Black, that revelation to the public did not occur until after he had taken his oath of office. He addressed the nation over the radio and defused the issue. Although a Southerner of conservative inclinations, Black was quite a liberal jurist.

Felix Frankfurter joined the Court in 1939. He considered himself an heir to the legacy of Holmes and Brandeis. His professorial background at Harvard Law School made him a pedantic jurist, and his inclination to preach and lecture and his arrogance compromised his leadership role on the Court.

William Orville Douglas also joined the Court in 1939. Born in Minnesota, he grew up primarily in Washington State. He had a distinguished academic record at Columbia Law School. A hero for many, others see Douglas as a scoundrel. Three of his four marriages and all three of his divorces occurred while he was on the Court.

Domnarski writes favorably of Douglas. Perhaps Douglas is endued to some praise after the beating he took a few years ago from Professor Bruce A. Murphy. Murphy's study of Douglas, like his earlier study of the relationship between Brandeis and Frankfurter, contains a distressing number of erroneous conclusions. (see review of Murphy's "Brandeis/ Frankfurter Connection" by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Myron H. Bright and David T. Smorodin, 16 Loyola Los Angeles Law Review (1983) and review by Paul Brickner of Murphy's "Wild Bill" in Judicature, MarchApril 2005).

Robert H. Jackson joined the Court in 1941. His formal law school education was limited to one year at Albany. Like Black, he was a skilled practicing lawyer. Jackson took time off from the Court to serve as a Nazi war crimes prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials. Black and Jackson were rivals for the position of chief justice when it opened up in early 1946. To his discredit, Jackson sent an intemperate telegram from Germany that raised questions about Black's failure to recuse himself in the Jewell Ridge Coal case, because his former law partner was counsel for one of the parties. Black cast the deciding vote.

Gifted writers

Domnarski tells us that each of the four great justices "was a gifted writer. Jackson was the best writer of the group and was, after Holmes, perhaps the finest writer ever to sit on the Court." He writes of Jackson's "glorious prose," his "dazzling opinion" in the second flag salute case, and his "powerfully articulated" dissent in Korematsu.

Although Black did not like to use figurative language because of imprecision, Domnarski says that "two of Black's most memorable opinions use powerful figurative language. …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

A Compelling Study
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.