“Much of The Common Law substantiates Haack’s point that Holmes entertained and employed pragmatic theories that represented the evolutionary theories animating the common law.”2
Thus, for Holmes, the Constitution is a “living document,” and the rulings by the highest court in the land ought to reflect the times in which they are made. The inevitability of change in the culture would influence how the common law and founding documents ought to change with the times, a reinvention of common law in practice. Objective standards should be replaced with “community standards.”
Justice Holmes, circa 1924
Holmes became known for his support of the eugenics movement, another controversial aspect of his jurisprudential viewpoints. Holmes corresponded with many men and women over his long career, most letters of which have not yet been published. The first biography of the man based on his papers, held in thrall by Harvard University, was not published until 1989. He served longer than any other justice, to the age of ninety years and ten months, dying at the age of ninety-four during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Justice Holmes requested burial at Arlington Cemetery, and among his effects was his blood-stained uniform, from the wounds he sustained in the Civil War. He was a man who could easily have died in the war, but providentially survived to become one of the most powerful and influential justices that molded the direction of the Supreme Court, and thus the history of the United States.
The final resting place of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and his wife Fanny in Arlington National Cemetery
1. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and the Darwinian Common Law Paradigm by Allen Mendenhall