The original Brandeis brief

Image of Louis D Brandeis, via OyezLouis D Brandeis (left), as lawyer, and as judge of the US Supreme Court, championed such unpopular causes as freedom of speech, privacy and worker protection. Arising from his belief that law is a device to shape social, economic, and political affairs, one of his enduring legacies is what has become known as the Brandeis Brief: a legal argument which relies not only on legal argument but also on analysis of empirical data. It was first deployed by Brandeis in Muller v Oregon 208 US 412 (1908), where he marshalled statistics from medical and sociological journals which demonstrated overwork was inimical to the workers’ health to support his argument that legislation limiting hours for female laundry workers was constitutional. The Law School of the University of Louisville is named for Brandeis, and I learn from Dan Ernst on Legal History Blog that Louisville have now made the original Brandeis Brief available online.

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