Catharine Wells, ‘Reinventing Holmes: The Hidden, Inner, Life of a Cynical, Ambitious, Detached, and Fantastic Old Judge Without Values’

ABSTRACT
Holmes is perhaps the only Supreme Court Justice that could truly be called a celebrity. He is the best known, most written about figure in American law. He served on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the United State Supreme Court for more than fifty years. Seventy years after his death, many of his opinions are still well known and frequently quoted. His collected papers remain in print and they are still publishing collections from his extensive correspondence. Two of his scholarly contributions – The Common Law and The Path of the Law – are classics of American jurisprudence. Indeed, one hundred years after The Path of the Law was published, four law reviews celebrated the occasion by holding symposia in his honor. In addition to professional fame, his private life has been a subject of continuing interest. As a boy, his father used him as the basis for one of his characters in ‘The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table’ – a regular column that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. As a soldier, his heroic exploits were well known. And as a Supreme Court Justice, he was known for his quotable opinions and his striking appearance. He was extremely tall, stood very straight, had thick white hair, and sported a military mustache. It is no wonder that he captured the public imagination when he was portrayed as The Yankee from Olympus in a popular biography, and as The Magnificent Yankee in a Broadway play, a general release motion picture, and a ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame’ television broadcast …

Wells, Catharine P, Reinventing Holmes: The Hidden, Inner, Life of a Cynical, Ambitious, Detached, and Fantastic Old Judge Without Values (2002). Tulsa Law Review, volume 37, 2002, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper forthcoming.

First posted 2021-08-05 10:00:01

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