In this famous treatise, a Supreme Court Justice describes the conscious and unconscious processes by which a judge decides a case. He discusses the sources of information to which he appeals for guidance and analyzes the contribution that considerations of precedent, logical consistency, custom, social welfare, and standards of justice and morals have in shaping his decisions.
Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (1870 -1938) was a well-known American lawyer and associate Supreme Court Justice. Cardozo is remembered for his significant influence on the development of American common law in the 20th century, in addition to his modesty, philosophy, and vivid prose style. Cardozo served on the Supreme Court only six years, from 1932 until his death in 1938, and the majority of his landmark decisions were delivered during his eighteen year tenure on the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court of that state. In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed Cardozo to the Supreme Court of the United States to succeed Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. The New York Times said of Cardozo's appointment that "seldom, if ever, in the history of the Court has an appointment been so universally commended." Democratic Cardozo's appointment by a Republican president has been referred to as one of the few Supreme Court appointments in history not motivated by partisanship or politics, but strictly based on the nominee's contribution to law. However, Hoover was running for re-election, eventually against Franklin Roosevelt, so a larger political calculation may have been operating. Cardozo was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote in the Senate on February 24. On a radio broadcast on March 1, 1932, the day of Cardozo's confirmation, Clarence C. Dill, Democratic Senator for Washington, called Hoover's appointment of Cardozo "the finest act of his career as President". The entire faculty of the University of Chicago Law School had urged Hoover to nominate him, as did the deans of the law schools at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. Justice Harlan Fiske Stone strongly urged Hoover to name Cardozo, even offering to resign to make room for him if Hoover had his heart set on someone else (Stone had in fact suggested to Calvin Coolidge that he should nominate Cardozo rather than himself back in 1925). Hoover, however, originally demurred: there were already two justices from New York, and a Jew on the court; in addition, Justice James McReynolds was a notorious anti-Semite. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, William E. Borah of Idaho, added his strong support for Cardozo, however, Hoover finally bowed to the pressure. Cardozo was a member of the Three Musketeers along with Brandeis and Stone, which was considered to be the liberal faction of the Supreme Court.
Lecture I. Introduction. The Method of Philosophy
Lecture II. The Methods of History, Tradition and Sociology
Lecture III. The Method of Sociology. The Judge as a Legislator
Lecture IV. Adherence to Precedent. The Subconscious Element in the Judicial Process. Conclusion