Anthony Lewis

American journalist (1927-2013)

Anthony Lewis (March 27, 1927, New York City — March 25, 2013, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a prominent liberal intellectual, writing for The New York Times op-ed page and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. Lewis who is a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, is credited with creating the field of legal journalism in the United States.

Quotes edit

  • The court is the least abstract of institutions. It is nine men, nine very human men, participating in a process that can be impressive or disturbing, grave or funny. And contrary to the general impression, the process is more visible than most of what goes on in government.
    • Quoted in Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court (1979), p. viii.
  • Five more times in the succeeding pages of his penciled petition Gideon spoke of the right to counsel. To try a poor man for a felony without giving him a lawyer, he said, was to deprive him of the due process of law.
  • Against all the odds of inertia and ignorance and fear of state power, Clarence Earl Gideon insisted that he had a right to a lawyer and kept on insisting all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. His triumph there shows that even the poorest and least powerful of men — a convict with not even a friend to visit him in prison — can take his cause to the highest court in the land and bring about a fundamental change in the law.
  • The conflict about the meaning of free speech went on through the 1920s, Holmes and Brandeis persisting in their view and expressing it in strongly worded dissents. In one sense it was a curious performance by the two of them, for each had a deep commitment to the Supreme Court as an institution and thought that division among the justices should be avoided when possible.
  • Without the foundation of law, this vast country could never have survived as one, could never have absorbed streams of immigrants from myriad cultures. With one terrible exception, the Civil War, law and the Constitution have kept America whole and free.
  • I am an optimist about America. But how can I maintain that optimism after Vietnam, after the murder of so many who fought for civil rights, after the Red scare and after the abusive tactics planned by government today? I can because we have regretted our mistakes in the past, relearning every time that no ruler can be trusted with arbitrary power. And I believe we will again.… But after all, this has always been a country of unbounded optimism, a country that struggles with itself and conquers corrupting habit.… In the end I believe that faith in reason will prevail. But it will not happen automatically. Freedom under law is hard work. If rulers cannot be trusted with arbitrary power, it is up to citizens to raise their voices at injustice.
  • Pulitzer Prizes are the preeminent mark of achievement in American journalism. As the prizes for reporting on Vietnam in defiance of official wishes show, they also point to the press's view of its role in society. That view has changed substantially over the more than eighty years of the Pulitzer Prizes' existence. Exposing official corruption on a local level had always been part of what journalists see as their function. But today, more than ever before, they are ready to write critically about the policies of the federal government, even in the once sacrosanct areas of foreign and national security affairs.
    • Written into History: Pulitzer Prize Reporting of the Twentieth Century from The New York Times. Times Books. 2002. pp. ix-x. ISBN 9780805071788. 
  • The meaning of the First Amendment has been, and will be, shaped by each American generation: by judges, political leaders, citizens. There will always be authorities who try to make their own lives more comfortable by suppressing critical comment.… But I am convinced that the fundamental American commitment to free speech, disturbing speech, is no longer in doubt.

About edit

  • Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis is among the great American journalists of the past half century. His coverage of legal issues for The New York Times, where he was a columnist for 32 years, along with his best-selling books (including "Gideon's Trumpet"), have made him one of the most popular commentators on American law.
    • Leddy, Chuck (January 8, 2008). "A balance between free speech and fear". The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Massachusetts): p. 16. 
  • Lewis is a former New York Times columnist and an authority on the U.S. Constitution.
    • Hagan, John F. (November 22, 2003). "Americans being denied rights since 9/11, journalist declares". The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio): p. B2. 
  • … Lewis will be remembered most for his unfailing commitment to justice as a concept that must rise above politics. For it is the Constitution, not any party, ideology or official, that merits Americans' constant allegiance.
    • Star Tribune staff (December 21, 2001). "Lewis and the law - Powerful writing rooted in respect". Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, Minnesota): p. 32A. 
  • Though Lewis' views frequently are well left of center on the political spectrum, his writing is moderate. Lewis is at once passionate and logical - great to argue with in your head.
    • Weiss, Richard H. (November 5, 1998). "Times columnist likes to mine a vein of thought". St. Louis Post-Dispatch: p. G1. 

See also edit

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