Law clerks and other young people who met Justice Brandeis learned how serious he was in his commitment to the states. He would advise them to leave Washington and go home. A lawyer I knew in Washington in the 1950s, Joseph A. Fanelli, told me that he went to Washington from Harvard Law School in 1935. Sometime later he had a telephone call from the justice's messenger, Edward Poindexter, saying that the Brandeises invited him for tea. Fanelli went to their apartment, was handed tea, and introduced himself when the justice came into the room. "What do you do, Mr. Fanelli?" "I'm with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Mr. Justice." "Don't stay too long!" Brandeis said, and moved on.
Fanelli was invited back once a year, and the same conversation occurred. He achieved such seniority that his wife (he had married) was asked to help pour the tea, and Fanelli was determined to break through the formula. When the justice said, "Don't stay too long!" he quickly asked, "Why do you say that, Mr. Justice?" "Because, Mr. Fanelli, I believe that every man should get back to his hinterland." "But, Mr. Justice, I come from New York. I don't have any hinterland." "That, sir, is your misfortune," Brandeis replied. And moved on.
January 25, 2010
Justice Louis Brandeis said get out of Washington: "I believe that every man should get back to his hinterland."
From an Anthony Lewis review of a new biography: