Carl Landauer


In the eyes of his contemporaries, there was little question that Learned Hand deserved the seat he never won on the Supreme Court. Indeed, he was referred to as the "Tenth Justice," and much was made of the Supreme Court's deference to some of his Second Circuit opinions. Although Hand never sat on the Supreme Court, he seemed assured of a still loftier place-in the twentieth-century judicial pantheon alongside Holmes, Brandeis, and Cardozo. Hand's Olympian position was so assured that Chief Judge Charles Clark opened the commemorative celebration of Hand's fiftieth year on the federal bench by expressing the unworthiness of those present to provide Hand a meaningful tribute:

"I shall carefully refrain from saying that we honor him today; who are we or any of us that we can add any laurels to those the profession, indeed the world, has already bestowed upon him? Instead, I shall say that by this tribute we honor ourselves and the court he has served so magnificently, and through it the profession of which we are the servitors."

Clark's laudatory words have an unmistakably conventional ring. Indeed, homages to Hand tended to follow a series of well-worn tropes and established patterns.