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Benjamin Cardozo was one of America's most influential judges, first on the New York State's Court of Appeals and then on the United States Supreme Court. How he arrived at his rulings, with their far-reaching consequences and the connections between his life and his jurisprudence are the focus of this book.
Using letters, briefs, transcripts and biographical details to give a picture of Cardozo, the book describes the shaping experiences of his youth, his religious training, the death of his mother and his reaction to the scandal that prompted his father to resign from the New York Supreme Court.
Using cases brought before the Court of Appeals, the author aims to show how Cardozo's rulings reflect a system of beliefs rooted in his early experiences. It argues that despite his famous detachment, Cardozo read evidence and precedents selectively and based his decisions regarding issues from rape and divorce to the insanity plea on his own views about morality, scholarship and sexuality. His renowned liberalism is also explored.