Friday, April 30, 2010

Brandeis on Free Speech: The Ruthenberg Dissent

New among the digital collections of the Harvard Law School Library is the case file in the Louis Brandeis Papers for the justice’s unpublished Supreme Court dissent in Ruthenberg v. Michigan (1927). According to a recent post on the library’s blog, Et Seq., by Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives:
Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941) is well known for his support of an individual’s right to privacy and free speech. His concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927) is considered by many to be one of the greatest defenses of freedom of speech ever written. What is less well known, however, is his dissenting opinion in Ruthenberg v. Michigan, a case that was dismissed when the petitioner, Charles Ruthenberg died. It was at that point that the companion case, Whitney v. California, became the focus and was tried before the United States Supreme Court. A review of Brandeis’ Ruthenberg dissent rewards the reader with a deeper knowledge of his thinking about these cases.
The collections page for the file includes an introduction to the case by Ronald Collins, University of Washington Law School, and David Skover, Seattle University School of Law. Collins and Skover have previously published the “Curious Concurrence: Justice Brandeis’ Vote in Whitney v. California," 2005 Supreme Court Review 333.