Curator’s Catch

May 2017: Photograph of the Supreme Court Justices

Photograph of the Supreme Court Justices
  • Accession No.: 2016.13.26
  • Donor: Andrew Ammerman
  • Description:

    Black and white photograph in frame, 1925

In this picture, the nine Supreme Court Justices are posing for an official photograph, while sitting in front of a painted backdrop in their traditional gowns. Their demeanor emanates the dignity of their office and the importance of their position within American democracy. This photograph holds the signatures of all of the Justices as well as a handwritten note on the top left corner: Property of Arthur G. Brode.

Arthur Brode, a lawyer from Memphis, TN, received his law degree from Catholic University in 1920. He married Clara Friedman, a lawyer herself, and both received admission to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Arthur Brode worked on many cases with his brother-in-law Max Ammerman, a Georgetown University law graduate. We don't know how this photograph got into Arthur's possession, but when he died in 1941 his wife Clara gave it to Max Ammerman - presumably, in memory of the many times they had partnered on cases and as an inspirational gift for Max's ongoing law career. 
 
Among the Justices in the picture is Louis D. Brandeis (front row, far right). As the first Jewish Justice and through his progressive legal work, Louis Brandeis has inspired generations of legal practitioners. 

Max Ammerman passed the photograph on to his son Andrew Ammerman, an Honorary Director of the Society and a long-time supporter. He donated it to our collection in 2016. This photograph, together with other materials from the Ammerman Family Collection, help us tell the complex story of Jewish participation in the judicial branch of government.