Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

The Brandeis Brief


Marion E. Doro

First Page



On February 13, 1939, Louis D. Brandeis wrote the following note to his Chief Executive:

Dear Mr. President:Pursuant to the Act of March 1, 1937, I retire this day from regular service on the bench. Cordially, Louis D. Brandeis

With this brief, laconic statement, he ended twenty-three years on the Supreme Court of the United States at the age of eighty-two. In frail health, but still retaining the intellectual vigor he displayed all his life, he stepped down from the bench to make way for a younger member. This act in itself was characteristic of Brandeis; his respect for the Court was so great he dared not over-stay his usefulness and impair the operation of the Court. It has been said that his career on the bench was "the great work of his life, to which all else was prelude .... "