portrait of Felix Frankfurter
Portrait by Harris and Ewing (1918)

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Quotes of the Day for 15 November 2003 – Felix Frankfurter

Felix Frankfurter was born at Vienna, Austria on this day in 1882. Twelve years later, his family moved to New York's lower east side. Felix spoke no English when he arrived, three years later he was a student at City College of New York, graduating with honors in 1902. In 1906 he graduated first in his class at Harvard Law School. After brief private practice, he because assistant US Attorney in New York, then served as legal counsel at the War Department. In 1914 he joined the faculty of Harvard Law School where he taught until FDR appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1939.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

Old age and sickness bring out the essential characteristics of a man.

To pierce the curtain of the future, to give shape and visage to mysteries still in the womb of time, is the gift of the imagination. It requires poetic sensibilities with which judges are rarely endowed and which their education does not normally develop.

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.

As a member of this court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard.

The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise power from behind the scenes.

It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have been forged in controversies involving not very nice people.
     - All from Felix Frankfurter, 1882 - 1965

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