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This is a biography of Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, a longtime member and chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals and Justice in the Supreme Court of the United States during the turbulent years of the New Deal.
Cardozo was a progressive judge who defended the proposition that judge-made law must be adapted to modern conditions. He also preached and practiced the doctrine that respect for precedent, history, and all branches of government limited what a judge could and should do. Thus he did not modernize law at every opportunity.
Andrew Kaufman interweaves the personal and professional lives of Cardozo, looking at his Jewish ties, his father's career as a judge and lawyer, but concentrating on his career, including 23 years in private practice as a tough-minded and skillful lawyer and his lectures and writings on the judicial process. From his biography emerges a figure holding to concepts of duty and responsibility, but a person not without frailties and prejudice.