Vanderbilt Law Review


John P. Roche

First Page



On July 19, 1949, Frank Murphy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States died in Detroit. The liberal press mourned the passing of a mighty warrior for civil liberty. Other journals observed the protocol of the occasion by politely deploring his death, the University of Michigan Law School prepared a memorial issue of the Michigan Law Review' in honor of its distinguished alumnus, a few encomiums appeared in the law journals, then silence set in. A silence which has been broken only by occasional slighting references to Murphy's talents, and by a word-of-mouth tradition in law school circles that the Justice was a legal illiterate, a New Deal political hack who approached the sacred arcana of the Law with a disrespect that verged on blasphemy, who looked upon hallowed juridical traditions as a drunk views a lamp post: as a means of support rather than a source of light.