Anthony Lewis, Retired New York Times Columnist, Dies at 85

Jewish Scribe Was Champion and Critic of U.S. Legal System

Anthony Lewis, a retired New York Times columnist, has died at 85.
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Anthony Lewis, a retired New York Times columnist, has died at 85.

By Reuters

Published March 25, 2013.
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“He felt that, no, the courts and the judges were the ultimate protectors of a free press,” Frankel said. “His idealization of the court, I think, grew mainly out of a court that he worshipped, which was the Warren Court. … I’m not sure how enthusiastic he would have been were he still writing now.”

Miller came under professional fire for stories she had written about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that held closely to stances taken by the administration of President George W. Bush, which later proved to be based on faulty intelligence. She reached a deal to leave the Times in November 2005.

Miller denied doing anything wrong in keeping secret the name of her source - Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had served as an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney - until he revealed himself publicly. When she left the New York Times, Miller said she did so “because I became part of the story.”

Lewis wrote frequently on the importance of the First Amendment. In his 2007 book “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate,” he wrote of America’s longstanding tolerance for words that shock and disgust.

“There will always be authorities who try to make their own lives more comfortable by suppressing critical comment,” Lewis wrote. “But I am convinced that the fundamental American commitment to free speech, disturbing speech, is no longer in doubt.”

Lewis did two stints at the Times, first from 1948 to 1952 in the paper’s Sunday department, before joining the Washington Daily News, where he won his first Pulitzer. He returned to the Times in 1955 as a Washington reporter and later became London bureau chief.

He won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for his coverage of the Supreme Court.

His column carried the heading “Abroad at Home” or “At Home Abroad,” depending on where he was working. He was the author of the book “Gideon’s Trumpet,” an account of the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision guaranteeing all poor defendants the right to a lawyer under the U.S. Constitution’s 6th amendment.

This month marked the 50th anniversary of that decision, which involved an indigent Florida man, Clarence Earl Gideon, who was charged with breaking into a poolroom. Gideon, who could not afford a lawyer and represented himself at trial, was convicted.


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