Louis D. Brandeis (November 13, 1856-October 5, 1941) was a United States Supreme Court Justice from 1916 to 1939. he was born in Louisville, KY to Jewish parents who had immigrated from Europe. He graduated from Harvard law School at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the school’s history.
Louis Brandeis settled in Boston where he became a recognized lawyer through his work on social causes and the “right to privacy”. He later fought against powerful corporations, monopolies, and public curruption and was dubbed “The Peoples Lawyer”. Although his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson was bitterly contested, Louis D. Brandeis became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1916.
He also became active in the Zionist Movement and later became a prominent Zionist leader. He first became active in the Federation of American Zionists in 1912. His involvement provided the fledgling Zionist movement one of the most distinguished men in American life and a friend of the future president. He devoted a great deal of his time, energy, and money to spreading the Zionist message.
Witht the outbreak of World War I in Europe, the Zionist Organization in Berlin lost its potency. American Jewry then assumed a large responsibility independant of the Zionist Executive in Europe. The Provisional Executive Committee for Zionist Affairs was established in New York for this purpose on August 20, 1914. Brandeis was unamously elected to head the organization. As president from 1914 to 1918, Brandeis became the leader of American Zionism and garnered support for Zionism’s goal of a re-establishment of the Jewish Homeland through every avenue including speeches and speaking tours.
Brandeis also brought his influence to bear on the Wilson administration in the negotiations leading up to the Balfour Declaration and the Paris Peace Conference.
In the 1930’s he endorsed illegal immigration to Palistine in an effort to help European Jews escape genocide after Britian denied entry to Jews.
With the death of Louis D. Brandeis of a heart attack on October 5,1941, the Zionist Movement lost one of its greatest leaders, but his legacy lives on in the activism of Zionists throughout the world.