November 13, 1856: Birthdate of Louis Brandeis. Southern born, Harvard educated; Brandeis pursued a successful legal career as a champion of the underdog. He was an ally and confidant of President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson appointed Brandeis to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1916. This was a milestone in American history and Jewish history. Brandeis was the first Jew named to the high court. He was also the first of whole group of minorities who would eventually take their place on the court including African-American and women. The Brandeis nomination was contested by anti-Semites and the American business community. Brandeis served on the bench until 1939. Brandeis was also a committed Zionist and a leader of the movement in the United States. He passed away in 1941. Words from Brandeis: “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.” “Every American Jew who aids in advancing the Jewish settlement in Palestine, though he feels that neither he nor his descendants will ever live there, will be a better man and a better American for doing so.”
On September 22, 2009, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps honoring Supreme Court Justices, of which one featured Louis D. Brandeis.