Please join us for our March monthly luncheon! This month, we welcome Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice John Marshall Harlan, who will present a program entitled “The Great Dissenters.” The program will be presented in costume by Bill Barton and Justice Paul DeMuniz.
Mark O. Hatfield U.S. District Courthouse
Justice John Marshall Harlan’s lone dissent in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, in which he maintained that discrimination in public accommodations was a “badge of slavery,” and Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), in which he argued that Louisiana’s law requiring whites and blacks to ride in “separate but equal” railroad cars violated the Fourteenth Amendment, secured his place as one of the Supreme Court’s greatest jurists.
In 1881, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes published The Common Law, in which he argued that the only source of law is a judicial decision, that judges decide cases on the facts, and that the true basis for judicial decision is drawn from outside the law. During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Holmes advocated broad freedom of speech under the First Amendment, and his most famous dissent was Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616(1919), which ultimately became the bedrock of free speech protections in America.