Justine W. Polier

American judge

Justine Wise Polier (April 12, 1903 – July 31, 1987) was the first woman Justice in New York.

Justine Wise Polier


  • Freedom means many things to many people. From my earliest childhood I saw it through the eyes of my parents as both opportunity and challenge to do battle for those in bondage, to achieve freedom of the spirit and mind for one’s self and one’s fellow men. Blessed by parents whose deepest joy was through service to their fellow men, who were deeply moral without ever being self-righteous, who were profoundly religious and therefore not sanctimonious, I learned that love of mankind became meaningful only as it reflected understanding of and love of human beings.
  • Passionate concern may lead to errors of judgment, but the lack of passion in the face of human wrong leads to spiritual bankruptcy..."
  • My parents were among the first progressive parents who thought their children should always be at the dinner table to be heard as well as seen."
  • I was one of the most fortunate of children because my parents shared so much- in their ideals, their work...And perhaps most important they...never gave us the feeling they were too busy or engaged in anything more important than their life with us.
  • Those were the days of the battles for the right to organize, and the conditions of workers were abominable.
  • By the end of my second year [1926], the great textile strike had broken out in Passaic where I had worked, so I commuted between Yale Law School and Passaic, to the horror of some of the reputable people at Yale.
  • Surely, the concern for the liberation of women need not and should not be separated from the struggle by women to protect and advance the freedom of all those still denied equal opportunities and full participation in the life of this country. (1973)
  • I tell myself each time that I am trying to do the best that can be done for this one child in front of me now. And then, starting after court, I try to do what I can for the others like him.'
    • "how she could possibly have endured 36 years of witnessing day by day the tragedies of children" attributed
  • One need not go South to discover the injuries to children which result from discrimination or indifference, too often rationalized on the ground that neighbors did not know about them.
  • We have lost a sense of personal responsibility and sensitivity to people, and our faith that we can do more for people who need help if we care. In other words, I don't believe we can have justice without caring, or caring without justice. These are inseparable aspects of life and work for children as they are for adults.
  • As case after case came up, I saw the vast chasms between our rhetoric of freedom, equality and charity, and what we were doing to, or not doing for, poor people, especially children.
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