Lifestyle & Belief

Anthony Lewis, legal journalist, dead at 85


A gavel rests on top of a desk in the courtroom of the Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Joe Raedle

Anthony Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote about the US Supreme Court, died on Monday in Cambridge, Mass., at age 85.

He introduced a new way of covering Supreme Court cases by exploring the reasoning behind court decisions and the consequences of certain rulings, the New York Times said.

“He brought context to the law,” Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the University of Washington, told the New York Times. “He had an incredible talent in making the law not only intelligible but also in making it compelling.”

Lewis’ books included 1964’s “Gideon’s Trumpet,” about Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 Supreme Court decision that ensured poor defendants would have lawyers, and 1991’s “Make No Law,” about New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 Supreme Court decision that transformed American libel law, the New York Times reported.

Lewis often advocated for civil rights and civil liberties in his column “At Home Abroad,” which he wrote for the New York Times Op-Ed section from 1970 to 2001, NPR reported.

In an interview with NPR around the time he retired, Lewis said: “Mostly, my column was serious and often critical of institutions and countries and leaders, but, you know, I've had a wonderful time in journalism. And I'd just like to say what a great profession I think it is. It's got some marvelous people in it, and you get a chance to meet those few who really provide leadership. They make the difference in a country, I think.”

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