Benjamin N. Cardozo, born in 1870 in New York City, was a U.S. Supreme Court justice renowned for his integrity, social consciousness, and elegant opinions. Cardozo rose to prominence during 23 years of private practice, becoming known as a lawyer’s lawyer before appointment to the New York State Court of Appeals in 1914. During his tenure there he became the nation’s best known and most admired state court judge. He added to his reputation through highly acclaimed off-the-bench writings, of which the most important is The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921). By asking and answering the monumentally simple question, “What is it that I do when I decide a case?” he helped many see the judicial role with greater clarity.
In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed Cardozo to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on the Supreme Court. In his six years as an Associate Justice, he handed down opinions that stressed the necessity for the law to adapt to the realities and needs of modern life.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is founded on the values its namesake cherished and the ideals he served, and like him, seeks to further a tradition of legal practice that evolves with the times.