March 8 ~  Mind Stretched Path of the Law & its Influence

"Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) loved the law and dedicated his life to it with insights that stretched judicial knowledge and protected freedom of thought.

"In our youth our hearts were touched with fire," he said in an often-quoted Memorial Day speech.

The son of the famous writer and physician, Holmes was known for his trademark flaring moustache and distinguished presence. A Civil War hero who was severely wounded three times, he once described life as "action and passion."

His acclaimed book, The Common Law (1881) stated: "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." His insights on jurisprudence led to his appointment to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, where he served for 20 years until his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court where he served for 30 more years.

"It is not the place we occupy which is important," he philosophized, "but the direction in which we move."

Called the Great Dissenter for all the times he disagreed on the bench, Holmes was a hero of First Amendment rights.

At a time when freedom of speech was honored more in theory than practice, Holmes insisted that the Constitution protected freedom of thought not only "in agreement" but also "for the thoughts that we hate." His ideology laid the foundation for the free speech we experience with such personalities as Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.

"It is the province of knowledge to speak." he reminded. "It is the privilege of wisdom to listen." 100 Hot BooksStretch your mind.