Monday, February 23, 2009

The Brandeis Brief

I've only just realized that one of the landmarks of legal advocacy, the so-called "Brandeis Brief," filed in Muller v. Oregon (U.S. 1908), is available in its entirety on the web from the University of Louisville, which is home to a collection of the papers of the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. The brief is available here; below is the University of Louisville's description.
In 1907, Florence Kelley and Josephine Goldmark hired Louis D. Brandeis to represent the state of Oregon in Muller v. Oregon (208 US 412), a case before the US Supreme Court that involved the constitutionality of limiting hours for female laundry workers.

To support his argument that overwork was inimical to the workers' health, Brandeis (with the help of Goldmark, his sister-in-law) compiled a number of statistics from medical and sociological journals and listed citations to the articles in his brief. The brief was significant in that it was the first one submitted to the Supreme Court that relied primarily on extra-legal data to prove its argument.

Not only did the brief help Brandeis win the case but it also became a legal landmark in its own right. Briefs that cited non-legal data quickly became commonplace and became known as "Brandeis briefs." However, the brief for Muller v. Oregon is the original Brandeis Brief, and therefore we present it here in its entirety.
Hat tip.