Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr.


A judge of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Holmes served on the Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, retiring when past ninety. He was celebrated for his legal wisdom and frequently stood in the minority when the Court decided cases. He insisted on viewing the law as a social instrument rather than as a set of abstract principles. He delivered a famous opinion concerning freedom of speech, holding that it must be allowed except when it presents a “clear and present danger.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.