Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

In 1967, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School was named after Benjamin N. Cardozo (1870-1938), former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1932-1938). Justice Cardozo is notable for both his defense of the New Deal’s social programs during his six short years at the Supreme Court and his advocacy for the common-law approach throughout his judicial career. 

Born in New York City to a Portuguese Sephardic Jewish family, Justice Cardozo was tutored by Horatio Alger and various home tutors as a youth, before being admitted into Columbia College at age fifteen. Cardozo had ambition to restore his family’s honor, after his father, Judge Albert Cardozo of the Supreme Court of New York, achieved notoriety for his involvement with the corrupt Tweed ring. The elder Cardozo resigned in 1872, just before he could be impeached. After the younger Cardozo’s graduation from Columbia College and a few years at Columbia Law School, he joined his father’s law practice and entered the bar. In 1914, Cardozo was appointed to the Court of Appeals, he would serve eighteen years at the court - five of which at the head.

Following Oliver Wendell Holmes’s retirement from the United States Supreme Court in 1932, Justice Cardozo was named to the Supreme Court by President Herbert Hoover. This appointment earned him the distinction of being the second Jewish judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court, after Justice Louis Brandeis. Despite later describing himself as an agnostic, Justice Cardozo volunteered within the Jewish community throughout his life. He was a member of the Judean Club, a board member of the American Jewish Committee, and a member of the Zionist Organization of America at various points. At the point of his appointment to the Supreme Court, he resigned from all offices except for his membership on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Welfare Board and on the Committee on the Advisor to the Jewish students at Columbia University. On the Supreme Court, he was one of the “Three Musketeers” - the nickname given to the three liberal members of the Court that supported the New Deal agenda, including Justice Brandeis and Justice Harlan Fiske Stone. He is noted for his defense of social security and old-age pensions in particular. 


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