Benjamin Nathan Cardozo

Benjamin Nathan Cardozo

Birth
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 9 Jul 1938 (aged 68)
Port Chester, Westchester County, New York, USA
Burial Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 172 · View Source
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United States Supreme Court Associate Justice. He received notoriety for his public service in the American justice system in the first half of the 20th Century. Although he served as an Associate Justice of the United State Supreme Court from 1932 to his death in 1938, he is most known for his significant rulings in the New York State Court of Appeals from 1914 to 1932, serving as chief judge from 1926. Born a twin and the youngest of six children in a Spanish Sephardic Jewish family, he held an unblemished personal reputation, yet his father, Albert Jacob Cardozo, a New York State Supreme Court justice with Democratic Political Party connections, had resigned in 1872 under the threat of impeachment for nepotism. Entering college at the age of fifteen years old, he graduated at the top of his class from Columbia University in 1889, studied law at Columbia in 1890, admitted to the bar in 1891 and began practicing appellate law in New York City with his brother at his father's firm before advancing in his career. During this time, he acted as a consultant to other firms writing appeals and as a referee in complicated commercial law matters. His extensive appellate experience led him to write his first book, “Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York,” which was published in 1903. This book followed in 1920 with “The Nature of the Judicial Process,” a compiled group of lectures delivered at Yale University; in 1924 “The Growth of the Law;” and in 1928 “The Paradoxes of Legal Science.” He was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in 1913 before serving on the Court of Appeals. During his term, his ruling in the 1916 MacPherson vs Buick Motor Company announced a doctrine that was eventually adopted throughout United States and Great Britain: an implied warrant exists between a manufacturer and the purchaser, despite intermediate ownership of the product by the retail dealer. His decision in Palsgraf vs Long Island Railroad Company in 1928 redefined the concept of negligence in American Law. After two lowe court rulings, he would be the first to rule in 1917 on the use of a brand name in the Wood vs Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, the fashion designer “Lucile.” This ruling became a stable in American and Canadian law textbooks. Even though there was already a Jewish Supreme Court Judge and one from New York, both serving as liberals, he was appointed as Supreme Court Associate Justice by President Herbert Hoover on February 15, 1932 to replace a resigning, elderly Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Strangely, he had supported Al Smith, who had run against Hoover for the office of United States President. He served during the court of Chief Justice of Charles E. Hughes. When others in the Supreme Court did not support President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, he did. He wrote more than 100 opinions, including the ruling in Hamilton vs Regents of the University of California in 1934, which protected in peacetime a conscientious objector student's right to refuse to take a mandatory class called “War Science” and Grosjean vs. American Press Company in 1936, protected the freedom of the press from a Louisiana State tax. He was a strong advocate of freedom of speech. He based his judicial decisions according to how the presented problem blended into his views of justice, morality, and social welfare. As a confirmed bachelor, he had a shy, gentle manner, but as a judge in the courtroom, was a powerful orator and considered one of the top legal minds in the United States; in his personal life sources describe him as “the hermit philosopher.” He was a trustee of Columbia University and since he was Jewish, had other interests were within the that community. He died from the complications of a stroke he had six months earlier and heart problems. A mainly Jewish college, Yeshiva University in downtown New York City has a Benjamin Nathan Cordoza Law School. His personal and professional papers are archived at Columbia University. His cousin was poet, Emma Lazarus, whose poem “The New Colossus,” was engraved on a plaque and affixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 172
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (24 May 1870–9 Jul 1938), Find a Grave Memorial no. 172, citing Beth Olom Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .