Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, unarguably one of the most outstanding judges of the twentieth century, is a man whose name remains prominent and whose contributions to the law remain relevant. This first complete biography of the longtime member and chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals and Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States during the turbulent years of the New Deal is a monumental achievement by a distinguished interpreter of constitutional law.
Cardozo was a progressive judge who understood and defended the proposition that judge-made law must be adapted to modern conditions. He also preached and practiced the doctrine that respect for precedent, history, and all branches of government limited what a judge could and should do. Thus, he did not modernize law at every opportunity.
In this book, Andrew Kaufman interweaves the personal and professional lives of this remarkable man to yield a multidimensional whole. Cardozo’s family ties to the Jewish community were a particularly significant factor in shaping his life, as was his father’s scandalous career—and ultimate disgrace—as a lawyer and judge. Kaufman concentrates, however, on Cardozo’s own distinguished career, including twenty-three years in private practice as a tough-minded and skillful lawyer and his classic lectures and writings on the judicial process. From this biography emerges an estimable figure holding to concepts of duty and responsibility, but a person not without frailties and prejudice.
The much-awaited publication of Andrew L. Kaufman's Cardozo is a major event in the world of law, judicial biography and legal literature. The work has been worth the wait...The biography...puts up front the special environment that shaped Cardozo--the Sephardic heritage that set him apart although he ceased religious practice after his bar mitzvah; his father's fall, which he wiped out by his shining integrity; the fact that all his experience was rooted in New York City and that his life was centered in his home in mid-Manhattan with [his sister] Nellie...[Kaufman] has been indefatigable in discovering the details of Cardozo's life. He is resolute in his respect for the evidence. As to Cardozo himself, he is fair, firm, admiring but not adoring, determined to set down the foibles, to note the occasional misjudgments and to reveal the virtues and the accomplishments of the man...Kaufman's Cardozo is a labor of love worthy of its subject.
Andrew L. Kaufman plumbs the sources of Cardozo's enduring influence, and no one could come better prepared for that task...[Kaufman] has been researching the life of Benjamin Cardozo for more than 40 years, and Cardozo is the long-awaited result of those efforts. It is both an exhaustive biography and a thorough analysis of Cardozo's influence on American law...Cardozo will surely remain for decades the definitive biography of this pivotal figure in American law.
This biography of one of the most distinguished judges in the history of American law details not only his brilliant legal career but also his lonely, almost tragic personal life...The author reviews scores of fascinating cases, such as that of Roe v. Wade, where Cardozo's opinions made legal history or influenced later decisions. His few criminal cases read like detective stories, with almost talmudic twists and turns of logic and unearthed facts...The author adds generous notes, and a case index as well as a general one. Seven photos add a personal touch to this comprehensive, valuable book on one of America's greats.
Benjamin Nathan Cardozo ranks with John Marshall, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Louis D. Brandeis, and Learned Hand as one of America's greatest jurists. In Andrew L. Kaufman he has attracted precisely the right biographer. This monumental volume belongs alongside Gerald Gunther's outstanding 1994 life of Hand...Kaufman has given us a 'life and works' biography...Only about 100 pages are devoted to Cardozo's private life or character, while almost five times that many focus on his 23 years as a practicing lawyer and 25 years as judge. The proportion is fully justified, for the law was by far the major part of his life...One comes away from [this] masterful study persuaded that Cardozo was trying, by hard work, to fulfill God's commandments to the Jews and to all men.
Andrew L. Kaufman...offers no apology for why it took him 40 years to complete his stunning intellectual biography of Cardozo. He need not. The writing is supple, contemplative and judicious; the scholarship, exhaustive, intriguing and unobtrusive...The book includes a comprehensive account of Cardozo's extended practice for 23 years as a business lawyer...a critical exposition of Cardozo's accomplishments as a common law jurist during his 18-year tenure on the Court of Appeals for the State of New York...and several touching asides about Cardozo's complex relationships with his Supreme Court colleagues during [his appointment there]...Cardozo and his intellectual biographer are worthy of each other.
On any list of outstanding American jurists, Benjamin Nathan Cardozo must certainly rank near the top...Curiously, despite Cardozo's reputation, there has never been a full-length biography of the man or a systematic study of his thought. Andrew L. Kaufman has at last remedied this situation. His carefully nuanced book, based on 40 years of research and unprecedented access to Cardozo's papers, opens an illuminating window on the work of a judge and Supreme Court Justice who turns out to be something other than what a good number of his would-be disciples think...This fine book cogently reminds us of what we once had in our jurists, and have yet fully to regain.
[A] long awaited and definitive biography...Kaufman's painstaking research as a biographer standing alone...is worth the price of the book. But more than half of the book consists of a thorough and insightful examination, organized by various areas of law, of Cardozo's judicial opinions, first in the New York Court of Appeals, and then in the United States Supreme Court. It is here that Kaufman paints a picture of Cardozo's judicial philosophy in action...By and large, the picture Kaufman paints of Cardozo's opinions is convincing.
Now, at last, Andrew Kaufman has published his biography of Cardozo, which is destined to be the classic work on the subject...During the past 40 years, [Kaufman] has reviewed every Cardozo decision, as well as available backup notes and Cardozo's correspondence, interviewed friends and relatives, and read the hundreds of secondary sources relating to the jurist. In the later stages, he continued his research on the Internet...Kaufman shows that, although Cardozo did not have Brandeis' political zeal, his cautious, common law methods gave birth to modern tort theory, formulated the delegation doctrine at the root of current administrative law, and enshrined the standards that are the basis of today's ethical codes. Brandeis was hailed as an Old Testament prophet in his later years; perhaps Cardozo is the Moses of our legal system.
In this well-respected biography, Harvard law Professor Andrew Kaufman details the remarkable life of Benjamin Nathan Cardozo one of the most influential judges in the twentieth century. Cardozo's personal and professional lives are intertwined in this study of a most distinguished legal career.
In this monumental and magnificent biography, Kaufman has captured the essence of a great American whose entire adult life was dedicated to the law as advocate, judge, and scholar...This book is a model of fine writing and can be read with pleasure not only by the bench, the bar, and academia, but by the literate general reader as well.
Kaufman has produced the definitive biography of the jurist who remains arguably one of America's greatest common law judges.
[Kaufman has written] a monumental biography that combines a vivid portrait of Cardozo's private life with a lucid analysis of his legal theories and opinion…The four decades of labor and love that Kaufman poured into Cardozo have produced a genuinely great book that readers will treasure for decades to come.
- 1999, Winner of the Scribes Book Award
- 744 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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