Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

By Alpheus Thomas Mason | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
Charting His Course

EVERY available seat in the historic Senate Chamber of the Capitol was occupied at noon on June 5 when Brandeis assumed his seat as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A few minutes before noon he walked across the corridor to the courtroom and was ready, Bible in hand, when Chief Justice White appeared. The Boston Globe1 noted Brandeis's "extreme nervousness" as he took the oath:

I . . . do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeable to the Constitution and the laws of the United States. So help me God.

Spectators included many members of the Senate and House and the usual government officials. Sitting in the reserved seats were Mrs. Brandeis and daughters Susan and Elizabeth, Miss Pauline Goldmark, Alfred Brandeis, George W. Anderson, Charles P. Hall, and other close friends. Pressure for seats was great, and an unusually large crowd stood in line awaiting admission. One woman remarked: "I am about to see a Jew on the Supreme Court of my country for the first time." The line moved on. She gained a seat. Shortly after she said to one sitting next to her: "What an interesting face the new Justice has." A few minutes later Chief Justice White sent a memorandum by one of the pages to Mr. Justice Brandeis. He read it and leaned forward to bow his acknowledgment to the Chief Justice. The lady then turned to her other neighbor and repeated: "What a beautiful face the new Justice has." 2 Without even a word Brandeis had won a hard case against prejudice. This ceremony closed the current term of Court, which then adjourned until October.

During the day the new Justice received more than two hundred telegrams of congratulations from prominent men in various parts of the

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