Tuesday, November 1, 2011
First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros
Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens:
It was the fall of 1945, when I was a member of the entering class of freshmen at the Northwestern University School of Law, that I first met Nathaniel Nathanson, the professor who taught constitutional law. Nat was to have a profound influence on my understanding of the law during the ensuing years. His students sometimes referred to his class as "Nat's mystery hour" because he seemed to raise an endless number of questions but provided us with few solutions. He thought it more important to teach us how to find answers for ourselves than to indoctrinate us with his own views. A brilliant and lovable man, he inspired the affection and respect of the entire class. We were so impressed by the fact that in 1934 he had served as a law clerk to Justice Louis Brandeis, a jurist who was then -- and still is -- considered one of America's greatest judges.
In later years, events that were then unpredictable gave me special reason for treating Brandeis as a hero. When Brandeis retired, in 1939, Justice William O. Douglas was selected to fill his vacancy, and after Justice Douglas set the record as the longest serving justice in history -- a record that still stands -- he resigned in 1975, and President Ford nominated me to fill his vacancy. I like to think that I inherited not only Brandeis's seat but also some of his ideas and his respect for the law.