Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Judge Learned Hand has been for many years a lawyer's lawyer. His opinions are liberally sprinkled through the case books; commentaries on legal matters cite his opinions with increasing respect and admiration; but to many people he is the judge who upheld the conviction of the eleven communists in New York on a question involving the limits of free speech. Scholars of parts and even some lawyers do not know that he anticipated the Supreme Court's "clear and present danger" test by two years, or that his contribution to the law of free speech is by no means confined to his holding in the communist conspiracy case. Judge Hand has dealt with many aspects of this difficult and controversial problem. His early opinions were liberal but restrained; his later opinions applied the law as he understood it to operate within an industrial context; his final opinion distilled from long experience and a mature philosophy of law is now the law of the land. It fulfilled his early promise and exemplified his greatest gift and in the final analysis the object lesson of his judicial career-- judges must compromise and balance contending interests, even as legislatures whose surrogates they are, but in so doing they must take heed of the social values underlying legal principles and weigh against each other interests of similar kind, pitting social interest against social interest and individual interest against individual interest to the end that justice shall flourish and the law be vindicated.