p 659, The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, edited by Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely, Joel B. Grossman
A complex, narcissistic bachelor, he was a priestly jurist whose support of African-Americans, aliens, criminals, dissenters, Jehovah's Witnesses, Native Americans, women, workers, and other outsiders evoked a pun: "tempering justice with Murphy " As he wrote in Falbo v. 'United States (1944), "The law knows no finer hour than when it cuts through formal concepts and transitory emotions to protect unpopular citizens ainst discrimination and persecution." (p. 561)
Google doesn't show the page number, Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices, By Noah Feldman
If as attorney general, Murphy sometimes seemed like an inquisitor, on the Supreme Court he emerged as a thoroughgoing liberal. Siding instinctively with the underdog, he would go on to write many dissents—one of them among the bravest in the history of the Supreme Court. The other justices found him a figure of fun—there he goes, they would say, "tempering justice with Murphy." Perhaps as a result of his colleagues' ribbing—and his own lack of interest in the technical side of the law—Murphy was deeply unhappy on the Supreme Court.
Do the above quotes suggest that Justice Murphy was liberal? If so, then doesn't the verb temper contradict his judicial liberalism? What did I misunderstand?