(born May 24, 1870, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died July 9, 1938, Port Chester) U.S. jurist. Born into a distinguished Jewish family, he was admitted to the New York bar in 1891 and became a successful courtroom lawyer. Elected to the state Supreme Court as a reform candidate (1913), he was quickly promoted to the Court of Appeals. During his tenure many thought the quality of the appellate bench exceeded that of the U.S. Supreme Court. He influenced the trend in U.S. appellate judging toward greater involvement in public policy and consequent modernization of legal principles. He was both a creative common-law
judge and a notable legal essayist. Appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States
in 1932, he usually voted with liberals Louis Brandeis
and Harlan Fiske Stone
. He wrote the majority opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Social Security Act
(1937). In a 1937 case on double jeopardy
, he held that the states were not required to implement all the provisions of the Bill of Rights
, a position that became known as “selective incorporation.” He served on the Supreme Court until 1938. The law school at Yeshiva University
is named for him.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.