Built by Association: Justice Benjamin Cardozo

Autograph of Justice Benjamin Cardozo

Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s signed copy of his book What Medicine Can Do for Law (1930).

Benjamin N. Cardozo (1870-1938) followed in his father’s footsteps as an attorney and New York judge. By the time he took the bench on the New York Court of Appeals in 1914, he had had 23 years of trial and appellate experience in New York City. During his 18 years on that court, he wrote over 500 opinions including, most notably, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad (1928). In 1932, President Herbert Hoover nominated Cardozo to replace Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to writing his most influential Supreme Court opinions on New Deal legislation—Helvering v. Davis (1937) and Steward Machine Co. v. Davis (1937)—Cardozo also authored The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921) and The Growth of Law (1924). These works originated as lectures he gave at Yale Law School. He tried to explain how judges reach decisions, while emphasizing that judges do not make law.

An interesting fact about Justice Cardozo’s book What Medicine Can Do for Law is that no one I know has ever seen an unsigned copy. This one is no exception.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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