Felix Frankfurter"Fragile as reason is and limited as law is as the institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have standing between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feeling."

Justice Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965)

Frankfurter was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Time magazine called Frankfurter a "foreign-born (Austria) Jew with a well-deserved reputation as a radical advocate of liberal causes.

Learned Hand, once called his colleague "... the most important single figure in our whole judicial system" while another, Earl Warren complained that "All Frankfurter does is talk, talk, talk. He drives you crazy".

In a 1962 article, on the occasion of Frankfurter's retirement at the age of 79, Time magazine wrote:

"Although he could be a profoundly kind and considerate man, Frankfurter had a waspish streak of intellectual impatience, and he sometimes jabbed lawyers, and even fellow Justices, with sharp-edged remarks or questions designed to make them get to the point.

"But no one could doubt his deep devotion to the law. A Harvard colleague once said to him chidingly: 'You take law awfully seriously.' To that, Frankfurter could plead guilty.'I do take law very seriously, deeply seriously,' he once explained, 'because fragile as reason is and limited as law is as the expression of the institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have standing between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feeling'."

This quote is often used in the context of explaining the necessity of law as contrasted with anarchy.

In spite of his "between us and tyranny" comment, Justice Frankfurter also once said:

"... when the people want to do something I can't find anything in the Constitution expressly forbidding them to do, I say, whether I like it or not, 'Goddammit, let 'em do it.'"

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