Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anthony Lewis: 1st Amendment Loses Its Best Friend

Cover of "Gideon's Trumpet"

Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist and author Anthony Lewis died yesterday at age 85 from renal and heart failure.

Lewis, a champion of the First Amendment, spent more than three decades as a columnist for the New York Times, penning his last Abroad at Home column December 15, 2001. He also is the author of several important law-related books, including Gideon's Trumpet, about the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, that found the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments mandated states appoint counsel for indigent criminal defendants, Make No Law, concerning the New York Times v. Sullivan High Court ruling that elevated the burden of proof on public officials bringing defamation claims against media defendants, and Freedom for the Thought that We Hate:  A Biography of the First Amendment.

The humble staff of "TUOL" was honored to have spoken with Lewis many times over the years at functions at Suffolk University Law School, New England Law Boston and the Massachusetts Bar Association (his spouse, Margaret Marshall, is the former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court) and to have shared a meorable lunch with him when he came to speak to the staff's journalism students at Boston University's College of Communication. Lewis was the personification of class--a soft-spoken, witty, opinionated but humble, charming man with an English accent yet!

The First Amendment had no stauncher ally and the journalism field, sadly, has few today who measure up to his standards.

Rest in peace, Tony.
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