Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

Foreword

AUTHORS who stop writing usually go where they can't watch their editors at work. The author of this book has gone instead to the Supreme Court of the United States. He has stopped writing in the usual journalistic sense of the word as certainly as though he had retired from the planet. But he has not gone far enough to be oblivious to the use made of his papers nor has he left testamentary instructions for their disposition. The consequence is that their publication presents certain difficulties. Other editors can retire behind the general responsibility of their authors, for an author who dies is presumed to intend the consequences of his act, one of which is certainly the publication of his scattered writings. We have no such refuge. Elevation to the Supreme Court, however it may remove a man from the journalistic world, is scarcely the equivalent of death, and similar literary conclusions cannot be drawn. The responsibility for publication is therefore ours. And though we shoulder that responsibility with pride so far as our readers are concerned, we bear the burden a little more heavily in the face of our author. Both Mr. Prichard and I have been law students of Felix Frankfurter, though at periods twenty years apart. We remember very well a blue ironic eye behind a brightly polished eye-glass. We remember also a voice which can crackle under a fool's complacence like dry wood under an empty kettle.

There are, nevertheless, two reasons why we believe the magazine articles and occasional papers of Mr. Frankfurter should be published at this time. The first is a very simple reason. They are good articles. The second is hardly more complex. They are an index to the American future.

The first reason will be apparent to anyone who will sample this book. I do not refer to its manner and style alone, though

-ix-

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