Justice William J. Brennan, Jr: Freedom First

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9780786700691: Justice William J. Brennan, Jr: Freedom First

Exploring his thirty-four year position on the United States Supreme Court, a detailed account of his significant contribution to the modern law on freedom of speech and the press notes his positions on civil rights, education, and capital punishment.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The happy warrior of the Supreme Court's liberal wing from 1956 to 1990 is fondly recalled in these miscellaneous articles collected by Goldman (Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure/St. Louis Univ. School of Law) and Gallen (co-author, Remembering Malcolm, not reviewed). One sure tip-off that this book will not be an objective assessment comes early, when Nat Hentoff terms Brennan ``the most powerful and influential Supreme Court justice in the history of the nation.'' Perhaps Hentoff forgot John Marshall, but it's indisputable that in longevity, the verve of his writing, and his mastery of the fine art of coalition-building, Brennan was, as the contributors here insist, a giant. The first third of the text consists of pieces previously published in law journals and other periodicals; among them are two interviews with Brennan and tributes from fellow justices Thurgood Marshall and Byron White, former clerks, and friends like journalist Nina Totenberg. These associates remember a justice admired by both conservative and liberal colleagues on the high court for his humor, compassion, integrity, and especially his political skill in cobbling together majorities behind his opinions. In the second section, Goldman examines Brennan's jurisprudence in such controversial areas as due process, sex discrimination, affirmative action, abortion, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, and the death penalty. The final third contains 15 of the justice's landmark opinions, including New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), which provides the press greater protection in libel cases. The work's celebratory tone eschews any criticism, no matter how justified: Little is made, for example, of the fact that Brennan, despite years of trying, was unable to create a clear definition of obscenity to guide lower courts. A tribute with the genre's characteristic virtues (warmth) and vices (lack of objectivity), but on the money in assessing a justice unwavering in his dedication to civil rights and civil liberties. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr. served on the U.S. Supreme Court for over 30 years, the third longest tenure in the history of the Court. During the turbulent days from the mid-1950s to the early 1990s, Justice Brennan clearly established himself as an ardent and persuasive champion of individual liberty. As a result, he became perhaps the greatest civil libertarian in the history of the Court and also one of the most influential (and often controversial) Americans of the post-World War II era. This is the thesis of Goldman and Gallen's analysis, in effect an encomium, of the life and times of Justice Brennan. The authors focus especially on Justice Brennan's jurisprudence, which stretched from the First Amendment to the Fourteenth, from obscenity in the late 1950s to gender discrimination and flag burning in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, they include some moving tributes to Brennan upon his retirement, tributes that show the man inside the judicial black robe. This surely won't be the last word on Brennan, but to this point it's one of the best. Highly recommended for all libraries.
Stephen Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, Id.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Roger Goldman; David Gallen; William J. Brennan
Editore: Carroll & Graf Pub (1994)
ISBN 10: 0786700696 ISBN 13: 9780786700691
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