embed embed share link link
Embed This Video close
Share This Video close
bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
Rate This Video embed
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...
Tags For This Video tags
rate rate tags tags lights lights

The Anatomy of a Great Case: The People Behind the Precedent

By Ronald K.L. Collins

Harold S. Shefelman Scholar,

University of Washington School of Law

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan is the mainstay of modern First Amendment jurisprudence. Perhaps more than any other case, it defines much of the mindset behind our contemporary views of free speech in America.

But what do we know about the people who (in differing ways) helped to make Sullivan possible?

What do we know, for example, about the iniquitous past of the judge (Walter Burgwyn Jones) who presided over the Sullivan case at the trial level? What do we know about the constrained drift of the jurisprudential mind of the lawyer (Herbert Wechsler) who argued on behalf of the Times in the Supreme Court? How much do we know about Justice Brennan’s young law clerk (Stephen Barnett) and the remarkable role he played in the case? And what of the scholars (Alexander Meiklejohn and Harry Kalven) who helped give Sullivan its celebrated status? Finally, what do we know about the man (Anthony Lewis) who, more than all the rest, first rescued and then perpetuated the Sullivan story for generations to come?

Surprisingly, there is much we do not know about these individuals – everyone from the segregationist judge who fought to defeat many First Amendment civil rights claims to the journalist whose first Pulitzer prize signaled the very free speech commitment that led him to write Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment.

Know this: Law is more, much more, than the lifeless black-letter doctrines memorized by lawyers and law students. It is the product of the struggles of men and women who, in varying ways, strove to translate their vision of life into a vision of of law. This Lecture is a sketch of those struggles (some noble, some not) and how they shaped a landmark free-speech precedent.

>