This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
January 28 is the 28th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 337 days remaining until the end of the year (338 in leap years).
On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominates Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. After a bitterly contested confirmation, Brandeis became the first Jewish judge on the Supreme Court.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Brandeis quickly earned a reputation in Boston as the people’s attorney for taking on cases pro bono. Brandeis advocated progressive legal reform to combat the social and economic ills caused in America by industrialization. He met Woodrow Wilson, who was impressed by Brandeis’ efforts to hold business and political leaders accountable to the public, during Wilson’s 1912 campaign against Theodore Roosevelt. Brandeis’ early legal achievements included the establishment of savings-bank life insurance in Massachusetts and securing minimum wages for women workers. He also devised what became known as the Brandeis Brief, an appellate report that analyzed cases on economic and social evidence rather than relying solely on legal precedents.
Louis Dembitz Brandeis (November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Europe. He enrolled at Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the college’s history.
Brandeis settled in Boston where he became a recognized lawyer through his work on social causes that would benefit society. He helped develop the “right to privacy” concept by writing a Harvard Law Review article of that title, and was thereby credited by legal scholar Roscoe Pound as having accomplished “nothing less than adding a chapter to our law”. Years later, a book he published, entitled Other People’s Money, suggested ways of curbing the power of large banks and money trusts, which partly explains why he later fought against powerful corporations, monopolies, public corruption, and mass consumerism, all of which he felt were detrimental to American values and culture. He also became active in the Zionist movement, seeing it as a solution to the “Jewish problem” of antisemitism in Europe and Russia, while at the same time being a way to “revive the Jewish spirit.”
When his family’s finances became secure, he began devoting most of his time to public causes and was later dubbed the “People’s Lawyer.” He insisted on serving on cases without pay so that he would be free to address the wider issues involved. The Economist magazine calls him “A Robin Hood of the law.” Among his notable early cases were actions fighting railroad monopolies; defending workplace and labor laws; helping create the Federal Reserve System; and presenting ideas for the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He achieved recognition by submitting a case brief, later called the “Brandeis Brief,” which relied on expert testimony from people in other professions to support his case, thereby setting a new precedent in evidence presentation.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Brandeis to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, his nomination was bitterly contested, partly because, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . . [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court.” He was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 47 to 22 on June 1, 1916, and became one of the most famous and influential figures ever to serve on the high court. His opinions were, according to legal scholars, some of the “greatest defenses” of freedom of speech and the right to privacy ever written by a member of the high court.
1077 – Walk to Canossa: The excommunication of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor is lifted.
1521 – The Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25.
1547 – Henry VIII dies. His nine year old son, Edward VI becomes King, and the first Protestant ruler of England.
1573 – Articles of the Warsaw Confederation are signed, sanctioning freedom of religion in Poland.
1624 – Sir Thomas Warner founds the first British colony in the Caribbean, on the island of Saint Kitts.
1724 – The Russian Academy of Sciences is founded in St. Petersburg by Peter the Great, and implemented by Senate decree. It is called the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences until 1917.
1754 – Horace Walpole coins the word serendipity in a letter to Horace Mann.
1760 – Pownal, Vermont is created by Benning Wentworth as one of the New Hampshire Grants.
1813 – Pride and Prejudice is first published in the United Kingdom.
1820 – A Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev discovers the Antarctic continent approaching the Antarctic coast.
1855 – The first locomotive runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean on the Panama Railway.
1871 – Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Paris ends in French defeat and an armistice.
1878 – Yale Daily News becomes the first daily college newspaper in the United States.
1887 – In a snowstorm at Fort Keogh, Montana, the world’s largest snowflakes are reported, 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) thick.
1896 – Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent became the first person to be convicted of speeding. He is fined 1 shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thus exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).
1902 – The Carnegie Institution of Washington is founded in Washington, D.C. with a $10 million gift from Andrew Carnegie.
1908 – Members of the Portuguese Republican Party fail in their attempted coup d’etat against the administrative dictatorship of Prime Minister Joao Franco.
1909 – United States troops leave Cuba with the exception of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after being there since the Spanish-American War.
1915 – An act of the U.S. Congress creates the United States Coast Guard.
1917 – Municipally owned streetcars take to the streets of San Francisco, California.
1918 – Finnish Civil War: Rebels seized control of the capital, Helsinki, and members of the Senate of Finland go underground.
1922 – Knickerbocker Storm, Washington D.C.’s biggest snowfall, causes the city’s greatest loss of life when the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater collapses.
1932 – Japanese forces attack Shanghai.
1933 – The name Pakistan is coined by Choudhary Rehmat Ali Khan and is accepted by the Indian Muslims who then thereby adopted it further for the Pakistan Movement seeking independence.
1934 – The first ski tow in the United States begins operation in Vermont.
1935 – Iceland becomes the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion.
1938 – The World Land Speed Record on a public road is broken by driver Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes-Benz W195 at a speed of 432.7 kilometres per hour (268.9 mph).
1941 – French-Thai War: Final air battle of the conflict. Japanese-mediated armistice goes into effect later in the day.
1945 – World War II: Supplies begin to reach the Republic of China over the newly reopened Burma Road.
1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.
1964 – An unarmed USAF T-39 Sabreliner on a training mission is shot down over Erfurt, East Germany, by a Soviet MiG-19.
1965 – The current design of the Flag of Canada is chosen by an act of Parliament.
1977 – The first day of the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977, which severely affects and cripples much of Upstate New York, but Buffalo, NY, Syracuse, NY, Watertown, NY, and surrounding areas are most affected, each area accumulating close to 10 feet (3.0 m) of snow on this one day.
1980 – USCGC Blackthorn collides with the tanker Capricorn while leaving Tampa Florida and capsizes killing 23 Coast Guard crewmembers.
1981 – Ronald Reagan lifts remaining domestic petroleum price and allocation controls in the United States helping to end the 1979 energy crisis and begin the 1980s oil glut.
1982 – US Army general James L. Dozier is rescued by Italian anti-terrorism forces from captivity by the Red Brigades.
1984 – Tropical Storm Domoina makes landfall in southern Mozambique, eventually causing 214 deaths and some of the most severe flooding so far recorded in the region.
1985 – Supergroup USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa) records the hit single We Are the World, to help raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.
1986 – Space Shuttle program: STS-51-L mission – Space Shuttle Challenger breaks apart after liftoff killing all seven astronauts on board.
* Army Day (Armenia)
* Christian Feast Day: