Adam Liptak


It is a great privilege to be with you today to celebrate the life and work of Anthony Lewis who created modern legal journalism. I thought I would try to do three things today to help us think about Tony’s legacy. One is to sketch out what made Tony such a giant. A second is to reflect for a minute on the state of the modern Supreme Court press corps, which he essentially founded. And a third is to consider a topic Tony returned to again and again in his articles, columns and books: the role of the press in a democracy and under the rule of law. Tony believed passionately in the First Amendment but was skeptical about a special role for the institutional press in the constitutional structure, and this set him apart from most journalists and all press lawyers. I’d like to make the case that his clear-eyed and iconoclastic views in this area were a triumph of intellectual honesty over self-interest.

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