In 1879 Brandeis began a partnership with his classmate Samuel D. Warren. Together they wrote one of the most famous law articles in history, "The Right to Privacy," published in the December 1890 Harvard Law Review. In it Brandeis enunciated the view he later echoed in the Supreme Court case of Olmstead v. United States (1928), in which he argued that the makers of the Constitution, as evidence of their effort "to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations ... conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone--the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."
Brandeis often joined his colleague Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in dissenting against the Court's willingness to pose its judgments about economic and social policy against those of individual states. Also with Holmes, Brandeis bravely defended civil liberties throughout this era. If he did uphold wide use of state powers, it was only in the service of furthering individual self-fulfillment; he also rejected incursions of a state upon a citizen's liberty. Two examples are the Olmstead case (already noted), involving wiretapping, and Whitney v. California, in which Brandeis opposed a California law suppressing free speech.
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Brandeis also took part in the effort to bring legal protections to industrial laborers, and as part of this effort he contributed a major concept to Supreme Court litigation. In 1908, defending an Oregon law establishing wages and hours for women laborers, Brandeis introduced what came to be known as the "Brandeis brief," which went far beyond legal precedent to consider the various economic and social factors which led the legislature to pass the law. Many lawyers followed the Brandeis brief and presented relevant scientific evidence and expert opinion dealing with the great social problems of the day mirrored in judicial litigation.