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Greatest Supreme Court Justices

Cass Sunstein has this post at BloombergView (emphasis added):

In the nation's history, 112 people have served on the Supreme Court of the United States. Suppose that we were to select the all-time greats. Who would make the cut?

To answer that question, we need a metric. It makes sense to consider two factors: historical significance and legal ability. It would be too contentious to include only those justices with whom one agrees, so let's make this list ideology-free. We'll also exclude the current justices, because it is too early to tell whether any will count among the all-time greats.

I largely agree with his list, and any "greats" list that includes both William Brennan and William Rehnquist has a decent claim to be "ideology-free."  I definitely agree with Sunstein's assessment that Robert Jackson was the best writer.


I understand the decision to exclude current Justices, but Scalia's writing is just lethal. You absolutely do not want to get roasted by a Scalia dissent, because it will turn you into a cinder.

Benjamin Cardozo is an omission. While his overall tenure on the Supreme Court was short, the large body of his work elsewhere is extraordinarily influential.

Agreed. Hence my hedge-word "largely."

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