Brandeis, Louis D.


1931 ALS as Associate Justice to the chairman of the Federal Power Commission, later chairman of the Federal Communications Commission



Autograph ID: 7068
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1856-1941) Kentucky-born lawyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1916-39, 1st “Jewish Justice.” Son of Jewish immigrant parents from Bohemia, he was raised in a secular home. Graduated from Harvard Law at 20 with the highest grade average in the school’s history. Settling in Boston, he founded a law firm and became recognized for his work on progressive social causes. Starting in 1890, he helped develop the “right to privacy” concept by writing a Harvard Law Review article with that title, credited by legal scholar Roscoe Pound as having accomplished “nothing less than adding a chapter to our law”. He later published “Other People’s Money and How the Banks Use It”, suggesting ways of curbing the power of large banks and money trusts. He later fought powerful corporations, monopolies, public corruption, and mass consumerism, which he felt were detrimental to American values and culture. He was an active Zionist, seeing it as a solution to European and Russian anti-Semitism and a way to “revive the Jewish spirit”. After his family’s finances became secure, he devoted most of his time to public causes, dubbed the “People’s Lawyer”, to address wider issues, bringing actions against railroad monopolies, defending workplace and labor laws, helping create the Federal Reserve System, and presenting ideas for the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He achieved recognition by submitting a case brief (“the “Brandeis Brief”) which relied on expert testimony from people in other professions to support his case, setting a precedent in evidence presentation. In 1916, President Wilson nominated him to the Supreme Court, his nomination bitterly contested because of his positions on social justice as well as his religion. He became one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the high court.

ALS on 8 x 5 official engraved Court letterhead, Washington, December 19 1931, to Federal Power Commissioner Frank R. McNinch, Washington. Justice Brandeis thanks McNinch for his “generous birthday greeting” and wishes McNinch and his wife best wishes for Christmas and the new year. Brandeis turned 75 on November 13. With hand-addressed, stamped Court envelope marked “personal” by Brandeis.

FRANK R. McNINCH (1873-1950) Charlotte, No. Carolina mayor, (2nd)chairman of the Federal Power Commission (FPC, 1934-37), and chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, 1937-39). In the 1928 presidential election, McNinch supported Republican Herbert Hoover over Democratic candidate, Irish-Catholic Al Smith, leading to a split in the North Carolina Democratic Party. After he was elected, Hoover appointed McNinch to a seat on the Federal Power Commission. He was later appointed FPC chairman by FDR. The controversial October 30 1938 Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast occurred during his time as FCC head. He resigned July 25, 1939, due to ill health (inflammatory colitis). McNinch was on the cover of Time Magazine on May 16, 1938.”
Type: Letter

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