Adam White writes for the Washington Free Beacon about the interesting history of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

[C]onsider … the early 20th-century progressives’ arguments against the Supreme Court. In the “Lochner Era,” named for the case striking down New York’s bakery regulations, the Court held many progressive reforms unconstitutional under a broad view of economic liberty. Soon progressives made limiting the courts a central plank of their political platform; eventually progressive lawyers formulated a constitutional theory for strictly limiting—nearly eliminating—the judicial power itself.

Thus progressives’ anti-judicial tactic became a philosophy—and by midcentury, their top philosophizer was Justice Felix Frankfurter. Inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt, and then by Justices Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Frankfurter played a central role in both the progressive political movement and its constitutional doctrines. When FDR appointed him to the Court in 1939, he helped to complete Democrats’ transformation of the federal judiciary. Yet by midcentury, when the Supreme Court itself became a tool for further progressive reforms, Frankfurter found himself significantly out of step with the new left. When he retired in 1962, just three years before his death, he was seen—scorned, even—as the Court’s most “conservative” justice. …

… The early progressives were advocates of state power against the federal Supreme Court. But soon Frankfurter and others came to prefer federal power, just not in the courts. At Harvard, Professor Frankfurter helped to create the new scholarly field of administrative law. Echoing his friend Herbert Croly’s call for Jeffersonian ends by Hamiltonian means, Frankfurter favored “education of the public on a national scale and the development of powers of government, the invention of new administrative methods, to give effect to community needs.” Here Frankfurter jettisoned one of Justice Brandeis’s key concerns. “Unlike Brandeis,” Snyder writes, “who opposed the [New Deal’s] big-government program from the outset, Frankfurter conceded ‘this is no time for undue theorizing,’ and tried to help the [Roosevelt] administration make the law work.”