Liberal Champion Justice William Brennan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel talk about the influential Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, champion of free speech and public access to information. Justice Brennan granted Wermiel access to a trove of personal and court materials, and Wermiel also conducted more than 60 hours of interviews with Brennan over the course of six years. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion makes Brennan’s case histories public for the first time, as well as records of the strategizing behind all the major battles of the past half century, including: Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, the death penalty, obscenity law, and the constitutional right to privacy.


Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel

Comments [5]

The conservative leanings of the two guests are showing through.

There is no denying that the most "activist" members of the court in the past 50 years have been the right-wingers.

It is brutally clear that Roberts lied through his teeth during his confirmation hearings. Citizens United directly contradicts Roberts's own claims during confirmation. That decision is one of the five worst in American history. (Another is Bush v. Gore -- another right-wing activist 'victory.')

Nov. 18 2010 12:34 PM
ml from inwood

In the 1980's a friend of mine, who worked at the Aspen Institute, met Justice Brennan. Partly inspired by him, when she decided to go to law school he was most encouraging to her and remained so both during law school and after she graduated. How he originally felt about women in the law, he did in at least some ways, adapt to the times he was living in. She was, and is, working in the public sector for social justice in ways that are consistent with his ideals.

Nov. 18 2010 12:26 PM

If Eisenhower were alive today and running for office, he would certainly be a Democrat, and a liberal one -- by today's standards.

It is difficult to understate how far right Republicans _and_ Democrats have moved in the past 50 years.

Brennan was able to make the distinction between the personal and public, so whatever his personal weaknesses, he rose above them to be a great justice. He did the right thing. Not so _any_ member of the court today except for Ginsburg (and Stevens until he retired).

Do we have _anyone_ like that in Congress or the Obama White House now?

The Republicans have proved conclusively that they will sacrifice any number of Americans -- up to and including sending them to die in pointless wars -- to serve the wealthy and a handful of medieval political bigotries.

Nov. 18 2010 12:20 PM
Mary Aileen from Bayside

I disagree, Ed. The Catholic teachings on social justice are evident in his rulings. It may be Justice Brennan is now not popular with the hierarchy. Since they control the message from their diocesan seats, mainstream media does not hear the "voice of the faithful."

Nov. 18 2010 09:41 AM
Ed from Larchmont

He isn't very popular among Catholics, though he was Catholic, because of his rulings.

Nov. 18 2010 09:01 AM

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