Magazine October 2, 2017, Issue

The Neo-Brandeisian Attack on Big Business

Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis (Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images)
Large firms benefit society in underappreciated ways

The ghost of Louis Brandeis is back — and he’s angry. Brandeis, nominated to the Supreme Court in 1916 by Woodrow Wilson, was the leading opponent of corporate bigness in his era. As economic historian Thomas K. McCraw writes, “Brandeis decided that big business could become big only through illegitimate means. By his frequent references to the ‘curse of bigness,’ he meant that bigness itself was the mark of Cain, a sign of prior sinning.”

Today, many on the left want to revive Brandeis, arguing that corporations not only are bigger than ever but also have become sinners against the progressive

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