Anthony Lewis, a former columnist for The New York Times, has twice won the Pulitzer Prize. His latest book is Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment.


The Shame of America

The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

by Randall Kennedy

Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock

by David Margolick
Randall Kennedy is a professor at Harvard Law School, widely regarded as one of the most perceptive and eloquent commentators on racial matters. His two siblings are also lawyers, one of them a federal judge. All three graduated from Princeton; Randall was a Rhodes Scholar. Their father, Henry Kennedy Sr., …

The Most Skillful Liberal

Justice William J. Brennan in his Supreme Court chambers, Washington, D.C., 1986

Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion

by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel
In 1946, in the case of Colegrove v. Green, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to get the federal courts to address the festering problem of political districts grossly unequal in population. At the time, for example, Connecticut was districted so that the 177,000 citizens of Hartford elected two members …

How the Supreme Court Should and Should Not Work

Stephen Breyer shortly after his nomination to the Supreme Court, May 16, 1994

Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View

by Stephen Breyer
The case for judicial review—the role of courts in enforcing constitutional limits on government power—was memorably made in a 1998 lecture by Aharon Barak, then the president of the Supreme Court of Israel. Before World War II, Justice Barak said, democracies outside of the United States relied for the protection …

A Supreme Difference

American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

by Joan Biskupic

John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life

by Bill Barnhart and Gene Schlickman
Antonin Scalia remains the most interesting of the Supreme Court’s conservatives, the most provocative. He does not hesitate to be sarcastic, even contemptuous, about his colleagues when he disagrees with them.

A Hero of American Justice

Louis Brandeis, Washington, D.C., 1930s

Louis D. Brandeis: A Life

by Melvin I. Urofsky
I met Justice Brandeis once, when I was about thirteen years old. His grandson was in my class at school, and I was invited to stay with his family at their summer house in Chatham, on Cape Cod. One day my classmate’s mother said, “We are going to visit the …

Google & the Future of Books: An Exchange

To the Editors: In his recent article criticizing the Google settlement [“Google and the New Digital Future,” NYR, December 17, 2009], Robert Darnton fails to acknowledge the significant role that libraries have had in the creation of Google Book Search as well as the concrete steps they are taking to …

Go Directly to Jail

'My dear Sir, it is quite impossible for me to take on your case. You lack the most important piece of evidence...that you can pay me fee!'; lithograph by Honoré Daumier, 1846

Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court

by Amy Bach
In our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. —Justice Hugo L. Black, writing for the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963 The court’s decision in …


An Unfettered Mind: Justice Stevens

In the celebration of Justice John Paul Stevens as he brings his long career on the Supreme Court to an end, it is worth remembering what might seem to be an untypical moment in that career: the flag-burning case of 1989. Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted in Texas of “desecrating a venerated object,” the flag. When the case went to the Supreme Court, the radical lawyer William Kunstler argued that Johnson’s act was protected by the First Amendment as a form of free expression. Justice Stevens asked Kunstler whether the Government had “any power at all to regulate how this flag is displayed in public places.” Kunstler said he didn’t believe so. “There is no state interest whatsoever?” Justice Stevens asked. Kunstler answered that he saw none. “I feel quite differently,” Justice Stevens said.