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:
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.

39 comments:

ricpic said...

Young people with ambition are drawn to the center. They don't want to return to the provinces. Brandeis' advice might be good advice but the young withits will have none of it.

rhhardin said...

I'll have to find a Cal Coolidge quip in the Reader's Digest collection:

"Shortly after Calvin Coolidge left the White House he was called upon to fill out a card to accompany the payment of his annual dues to the National Press Club.

Mr. Coolidge filled in his name and address, and then on the line provided for "Occupation" wrote simply "Retired." After a moment's thought, in the space headed "Remarks," the ex-President added the terse comment: "Glad of it."

LarsPorsena said...

Here's hoping lots of current Congress members get the opportunity to visit their hinterlands after having their hindquarters electorally kicked.

Richard Dolan said...

"'I'm with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Mr. Justice.' Don't stay too long!' Brandeis said, and moved on."

Odd advice coming from a SCOTUS justice. As with much free advice, the justice didn't apply it to himself. His successors haven't been much interested in following it, either.

Nichevo said...

Some people just like to give a set speech. Or as Robert Frost said,

He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Don't stay too long!”
(FTFY, Bob)

Chip Ahoy said...

So where was Brandeis when he snapped that turgid advice year after year?

Brad V said...

Like.

lisbermy said...

Alas.. something right wingers cannot asail Obama on..

Obama did go back home to Kenia.

John Stodder said...

If Congress passes Obamacare through the stunt getting floated this week -- House passes Senate version in exchange for promises that objectionable parts can be fixed via reconciliation in the Senate -- you will have the equivalent of CA's Prop. 13 at the federal level.

You will have a Republican majority in both houses. They will pass constitutional amendments limiting spending, perhaps with a balanced-budget mandate and a ban on bailouts. And you will see term limits. The states will approve both measures with dispatch. I'm not saying these are good ideas. But this kind of high-handedness in the face of public opinion won't stand. If the Democrats are thinking they're making this wonderful sacrifice, their careers for finally giving health care to the healthless multitudes, they need to get their heads out of the asses. It's not about them. They're putting the entire system on the boil.

Brandeis might have been a windy hypocrite, but his words reflect what the majority of voters think. We are long past the day when "public service" was romanticized. All voters need is for the Democrats to provoke them one more time on this health care bill, and, I'm telling you, things are going to change dramatically.

lisbermy said...

Q&A: Melvin Urofsky. the author of the Brandeis Bio.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

You might be aware, tho some of your readers may not, of serial blogs on the Volhk Conspiracy regarding the bloggers’ draft article:

Judicial Duty and the Supreme Court’s Cult of Celebrity.

A fey oversimplification of the Volokh blog summary would be "Ya gotta get out more".

And so, I would revise my previous comment to you on SCOTUS justices:

“And Prof A, with all due respect, when you claim that

“Non-lawprof Americans tend to think that the Constitution really means something and that that the Supreme Court has a special role and expertise in saying what it means, that a 5-4 decision is something more than just a vote on what 9 power-wielders would like the law to be”,

I suggest, er, yes, except when the 5-4 decision is obviously nothing more than just a vote on what 9 power-wielders who don’t get out enough in the real world would like the law to be.”

(BF added)

See Supreme Court Justices as Inferior Judges Craig Lerner & Nelson Lund, guest-blogging 1/ 22/10

MadisonMan said...

You will have a Republican majority in both houses. They will pass constitutional amendments limiting spending, perhaps with a balanced-budget mandate and a ban on bailouts.

Yes, because the Republican Party of the early 2000s were such wise stewards of Governmental funds.

If the Republican Party grabs power it will do one thing, and one thing only: Abuse it.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My only question is:

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen D.C.?

From Inwood said...

lisbermy said...

You gotta get out more. There are more Trig birthers than Obama birthers.

Henry said...

I'm fairly tolerant of governmental folly, we being a foolish species both at the individual and collective level.

Even with the enormous centralization of power in Washington, I remain aware of the basic incompetency of states to use wisely the powers granted to them by federalism even as they are bartered away for kickbacks and favors.

But one mental image of this transformation does bother me and that is the image of the radial array of exurbs spreading out from Washington DC as people follow the money and the jobs created to spend it.

The United States has never had a national capital in the sense of a Paris, or London, or Tokyo. It has had many capitals -- state capitals, capitals of finance, capitals of entertainment. It had a meatpackers capital of the world. Washington D.C. -- capital of national government -- was never the most important. Until now.

It makes the country less dynamic and less robust. We are centralizing folly.

Trooper York said...

Bill and Nicki from "Big Love" visited their congressman in Washington this week. The congressman was played by the one and only Perry King. Which is very ironic considering what is his most remembered role.

Or maybe it is just a conicidink.

Freeman Hunt said...

I think that's good advice. Especially now with the Internet. You can still participate in things at a national level, but you need not be confined to a handful of metropolitan areas.

Peter V. Bella said...

If the Republican Party grabs power it will do one thing, and one thing only: Abuse it.

Um, sort of like what the Democrats are doing now?

John Stodder said...

Yes, because the Republican Party of the early 2000s were such wise stewards of Governmental funds.

Well, of course, they weren't, and that's a big reason why they lost power in 2006-8. You think the candidates running for 2010 want to emulate them? It's not for nothing that Scott Brown downplayed his party affiliation.

If the Republican Party grabs power it will do one thing, and one thing only: Abuse it.

And if they do, they won't survive.

If you look at my comment, I wasn't really cheering for the Republican party. The GOP establishment in CA, nay, not even Ronald Reagan, foresaw the the 1978 taxpayer revolt that led to Prop. 13 and other drastic changes in how government could be financed.

The Democrats' problem now is that they ran on a promise to end GOP abuses symbolized by that cretinous thug Tom Delay -- and then went on to adopt the Hammer's playbook without changing a comma. So, running against the GOP leaders that preceded them into power won't work. To the voters, the Democratic ascension after 2006 is the new face of arrogant Washington failure. They can't save themselves by playing "Remember when you hated Tom Delay?"

garage mahal said...

The left got exactly nothing in the health care bills. Not sure how this meme gets pushed so far and wide. The popular parts liberals wanted got jettisoned, and the unpopular parts pushed through by the likes of Nelson and Lieberman. The exit polling from Mass does not support most of the conventional wisdom about the Brown win.

LarsPorsena said...

"...The exit polling from Mass does not support most of the conventional wisdom about the Brown win."

Tell that to Beau Biden. Delaware's Biden seat will now be Republican.

dick said...

Sorry but Nelson didn't push through the parts for Nebraska. That was your fearless leader Reid who did that when he tried to buy the votes of the recalcitrant Dems.

The Crack Emcee said...

If I went back to my hinterlands, I would've shot somebody, or been shot, by now.

mariner said...

Democrats don't need to return to their hinterlands.

Their heads are already there.

Lem said...

@ 2:15 The exit polling from Mass...

There was no exit polling in Mass. Garage..

I'm not going to say you lied.. I'm just going to say you punished the truth a little.

Alex said...

ricpic:

Young people with ambition are drawn to the center. They don't want to return to the provinces. Brandeis' advice might be good advice but the young withits will have none of it.

Exactly, we all dream of leaving behind our awful hinterland.

Lem said...

Rosie is on Oprah..

I like Rosie. despite her politics.

garage mahal said...

I'm not going to say you lied.. I'm just going to say you punished the truth a little.

Correct. But immediate polling was done however. A few highlights that go against CW:

- 70 percent of voters think Brown should work with Democrats on health care reform, including 48 percent of Brown voters.

- 52 percent of voters were enthusiastic/satisfied with Obama administration policies.

- 44 percent of voters believe “the country as a whole” would be better off with health care reform, but 23 percent believe Massachusetts would be better off.

- 68 percent of voters, including 51 percent of Brown voters approve of Massachusetts’ health care reform.

- 58 percent of all voters, including 37 percent of Brown voters, felt “dissatisfied/angry” with “the policies offered by the Republicans in Congress.”

bagoh20 said...

By all means, Garage: you keep spreading that. I hope the Dems continue to believe it. Nothing will push them out of power as fast as falling for such polls.

Lem said...

Good.. I knew you would do the right thing and correct it.

Peter V. Bella said...

Hey garage,

All the polls show that a majority of the people, you know those pesky people that the servants of the public serve- are against any government health care reform.

It is the Democrat Party that is in favor of it- against the will of the electorate. They are still pushing it. Punishing the majority for a small minority. You see, your people have a fatal flaw. They always talk and never listen.

When you go against the people, the people push back. Just ask the Republicans.

Maguro said...

Exit polling indicates that Obamacare is the most popular thing since Hillarycare.

Balfegor said...

Re: MadisonMan:

If the Republican Party grabs power it will do one thing, and one thing only: Abuse it.

It's shocking how the cycle of corruption has accelerated. It took Republicans a decade to attain the kind of corruption it took the Democrats 50 years to attain before them. And this time around, it took the Democrats all of two years to reach what took Republicans a decade. Really, the only way to go from here is dramatic party reversals in the House every single election, as Congressmen learn, within 6 months, that they can buy votes and kickbacks from the public purse and promptly debase themselves.

garage mahal said...

All the polls show that a majority of the people, you know those pesky people that the servants of the public serve- are against any government health care reform.

I would check actual polls. The one I just cited shows only 11 percent of voters, including 19 percent of Brown voters, want Brown to “stop the Democratic agenda:”

Pogo said...

"It's shocking how the cycle of corruption has accelerated."

Or maybe the the cycle of getting caught has accelerated.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Crack Emcee said:
If I went back to my hinterlands, I would've shot somebody, or been shot, by now.

That's a good point. Depends on the hinterland. Maybe just, "Get out of DC, NYC, or LA if you can." Avoid letters, I guess. Or maybe just, "Avoid DC" because really, everyone should avoid DC.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Garage said...

- 70 percent of voters think Brown should work with Democrats on health care reform, including 48 percent of Brown voters.

Yes, and the same poll found that

- only 43 percent of voters support the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by (Congress) and (the Obama administration).

In other words, even in Mass. they don't want what the Democrats are selling.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The one I just cited shows only 11 percent of voters, including 19 percent of Brown voters, want Brown to “stop the Democratic agenda:”


Polling random idiot uninformed voters in MASSACHUSETTS of all places means diddly squat jack to the rest of the Country and certainly isn't representative of the rest of the United States.

Try again

Ralph L said...

My parents both fled their small towns on Tobacco Road as soon as they could and met in D.C. in the early 50's. Mom said "everyone" wanted to go to New York or Washington back then.

I lived in Alexandria, outside Washington, from age 9 to 31, before fleeing to Grandma's house. I'm making a lot less money, but you don't have to worry about getting caught in traffic snarls every hour of the day.