Robert H. Jackson on Learned and Augustus Hand:
Justice Robert Jackson and Judge Learned Hand are probably my two favorite judges, so I was particularly interested to see that Justice Jackson once gave a speech in 1951 on what made Learned Hand and his cousin Augustus Hand so outstanding. From the speech:
  I think that their attitude to the law and to the judicial office has been much more important than any cases they have decided or any opinions they have written. These men love the law. They were bred in that family tradition in Upstate New York, a geographical fact that I do not think should be held against them. Love of the law led them to Harvard — another thing I would not hold against them. But Harvard did not make the Hands. It is men like the Hands who have made Harvard. They believed in the law. That does not mean that they thought everything that happened to be law is right or enduring. They have not regarded it as a closed body of learning. But they believed in the law as the foundation of the whole structure of an ordered and free society.
  These men found their highest satisfaction in judicial work. It fulfilled their every ambition. They put all they had into it — they have not shirked even its drudgery. They wrote their opinions with no appeal for applause and sought only to merit the ultimate approval of their profession. They have not been looking over their shoulders to see whom they please. They have represented an independent and intellectually honest judiciary at its best. And the test of an independent judiciary is a simple one — the one you would apply in choosing an umpire for a baseball game. What do you ask of him? You do not ask that he shall never make a mistake or always agree with you, or always support the home team. You want an umpire who calls them as he sees them. And that is what the profession has admired in the Hands.
  Good stuff. Of course, if Justice Jackson had blogged these thoughts today, he would have triggered a 150-comment thread questioning what he really meant about judges being like umpires, and whether that was really any sort of "test."

  Thanks to reader Constitutional Crisis for the link.