Learned Hand

Learned Hand

Billings Learned Hand ( /ˈlɜrnɨd/ LURN-id; January 27, 1872 – August 18, 1961) was a United States judge and judicial philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Hand has been quoted more often than any other lower-court judge by legal scholars and by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Born and raised in Albany, New York, Hand majored in philosophy at Harvard College and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. After a short career as a lawyer in Albany and New York City, he was appointed as a Federal District Judge in Manhattan in 1909 at the age of 37. The profession suited his detached and open-minded temperament, and his decisions soon won him a reputation for craftsmanship and authority. Between 1909 and 1914, under the influence of Herbert Croly's social theories, Hand supported New Nationalism. He ran unsuccessfully as the Progressive Party's candidate for Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals in 1913, but withdrew from active politics shortly afterwards. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge promoted Hand to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which he went on to lead as the Senior Circuit Judge (later retitled Chief Judge) from 1939 until his semi-retirement in 1951. Scholars have recognized the Second Circuit under Hand as one of the finest appeals courts in the country's history. Friends and admirers often lobbied for Hand's promotion to the Supreme Court, but circumstances and his political past conspired against his appointment.

Hand possessed a gift for the English language, and his writings are admired as legal literature. He rose to fame outside the legal profession in 1944 after giving a short address in Central Park that struck a popular chord in its appeal for tolerance. During a period when a hysterical fear of subversion divided the nation, Hand was viewed as a liberal defender of civil liberties. A collection of Hand's papers and addresses, published in 1952 as The Spirit of Liberty, sold well and won him new admirers. Even after he criticized the civil-rights activism of the 1950s Warren Court, Hand retained his popularity.

Hand is also remembered as a pioneer of modern approaches to statutory interpretation. His decisions in specialist fields, such as patents, torts, admiralty law, and antitrust law, set lasting standards for craftsmanship and clarity. On constitutional matters, he was both a political progressive and an advocate of judicial restraint. He believed in the protection of free speech and in bold legislation to address social and economic problems. He argued, however, that the United States Constitution does not empower courts to overrule the legislation of elected bodies, except in extreme circumstances. Instead, he advocated the "combination of toleration and imagination that to me is the epitome of all good government".

Read more about Learned HandEarly Life, Harvard, Albany Legal Practice, Marriage and New York, Federal Judge, Between The Wars, World War II, Postwar Years, Semi-retirement and Death, Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Influence, Selected Works

Other articles related to "learned hand, hand, learned":

Learned Hand - Selected Works
... Hand, Learned (1941), Liberty, Stamford, CT Overbrook, OCLC 2413475 ... Hand, Learned (1952), Irving Dilliard, ed ... The Spirit of Liberty Papers and Addresses of Learned Hand, New York Knopf, OCLC 513793 ...
United States V. One Book Called Ulysses - Appeal
... The panel majority consisted of Judges Learned Hand and Augustus N ... Hand, with Chief Judge Martin Manton dissenting ... Judges Learned Hand and Augustus Hand, believing that the case was receiving undue publicity and attention, "agreed that the opinion affirming Woolsey's ruling should, if at all possible, contain 'not a single quotable ...
Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr. - Bibliography
... Court of Appeals Judges Augustus Noble Hand and Learned Hand, or his teachers at the Harvard Law School such as Felix Frankfurter, became close friends of his ... with Charles Culp Burlingham, 1934-1959, and Learned Hand, 1932-1961 ... Originals of his letters to Burlingham and Hand are in the respective Papers of the two men in the Harvard Law School Library ...

Famous quotes containing the words hand and/or learned:

    If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire.
    Bible: New Testament, Matthew 18:8.

    He who has learned what is commonly considered the whole art of painting, that is, the art of representing any natural object faithfully, has as yet only learned the language by which his thoughts are to be expressed.
    John Ruskin (1819–1900)