March 25, 2013

Liberal columnist Anthony Lewis dies

The Pulitzer Prize winner, who wrote columns for 32 years at The New York Times, was 85.

The Associated Press

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Freedom of expression was also a topic for Lewis in his 1991 book, "Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment," about a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision that protected news organizations from some libel suits.

Joseph Anthony Lewis was born in New York City on March 27, 1927, the son of a nursery school director and a textile company director. He attended the elite Horace Mann School in the Bronx and graduated from Harvard College in 1948.

He joined the Times in 1948 and spent most of his career there, except a stint at the now-defunct Washington Daily News, where he worked from 1952 to 1955.

He studied law for a year at Harvard in the 1950s so he could go on to cover the Supreme Court for the Times, and served as chief of the newspaper's London bureau from 1965 to 1972. He began his twice-weekly "Abroad at Home" column from London in 1969 and moved to Boston in 1972.

In 1984, he married Marshall, who in 1996 was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. She was made chief justice in 1999 and wrote the court's 2003 decision legalizing same-sex marriage. When she announced her retirement in 2010, Marshall said she was leaving "so that Tony and I may enjoy our final seasons together."

When Lewis retired, he told the Times that his career as a columnist had led him to two conclusions.

"One is that certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity in people who are sure they are right, like Osama bin Laden and (then-Attorney General) John Ashcroft," he said. "And secondly that for this country at least, given the kind of obstreperous, populous, diverse country we are, law is the absolute essential. And when governments short-cut the law, it's extremely dangerous."

He also taught at universities including Harvard, Columbia, California, Illinois, Oregon, Arizona and Stanford.

 

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