Remembering Walter Berns

Steven F. Hayward, The American, January 13, 2015.


There are limitless examples of Berns at his blunt but clarifying best. My favorite is his summary judgment of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who for some reason seems to have every would-be jurist bamboozled. Contrary to Holmes’s popular reputation as the greatest judicial statesman since John Marshall, Berns wrote that “no man who ever sat on the Supreme Court was less inclined and so poorly equipped to be a statesman or to teach, as a philosopher is supposed to teach, what a people needs to know in order to govern itself well.” Boom! (My codicil to Walter’s argument is that any potential GOP Supreme Court nominee who names Holmes as someone they admire — as David Souter and Harriett Miers both did — should be immediately disqualified for the appointment.)

American Enterprise Institute