Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment by Floyd Abrams, 9780300190878

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Since 1971, when the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times and furious debate over First Amendment rights ensued, free-speech cases have emerged in rapid succession. Floyd Abrams has been on the front lines of nearly every one of these major cases, which is also to say that, more than any other person, he has forged this country's legal understanding of free speech. Litigating everything from national-security and prior-restraint issues to controversies concerning the law of libel and attempts by local officials to censor art, Abrams has worked devotedly to protect the First Amendment, the "crown jewel" of America's Constitution. This collection of Abrams's writings gathers speeches, articles, debates, briefs, oral arguments, and testimony from his entire career. The writings illuminate topics of ongoing import: WikiLeaks, the correctness of the Citizens United case, journalist shield laws, and, not least, the responsibilities of the press. An exceptional writer and a brilliant thinker, Abrams offers a unique perspective on the First Amendment and the unparalleled rights it confers.

Publisher reviews

"Vigorous, principled defenses of freedom of expression from a long career in the legal trenches."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "In his long career, Abrams has been involved in most of the major cases challenging and defining free speech, from the Pentagon Papers to Citizens United to WikiLeaks. In this highly accessible collection, ... Abrams explores the landscape of free-speech issues in the U.S. during the past 50 years."-Booklist Booklist "This collection from the First Amendment lawyer gathers speeches, articles, briefs and testimony from his career, which includes some of the most controversial free-speech cases of the past four decades."-Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times "An immensely informative and provocative collection of writings in which Abrams weighs in on a wide array of free speech issues, including libel laws, pornography, 'hate speech,' WikiLeaks, Internet 'publications,' and the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Citizens United v. FEC."-Glenn Altschuler, Cornell Alumni Magazine -- Glenn Altschuler Cornell Alumni Magazine "In the course of his law practice, Abrams has also developed and from time to time shared with the rest of us-in the form of articles, speeches, television appearances, and published interviews-his own conception of what the 'freedom of speech, or of the press' means and the threats it faces, a conception born of practical experience and much more than a little hard thinking. Friend of the Court is a compendium of the best of that thinking... Even if you read some (or many) of these pieces when they were first published (as I have), the insights they contain are well worth revisiting. If you have not previously been exposed to Abrams's writings about what the First Amendment protects and why, you will be hard pressed to find a better or more persuasive analysis."-Lee Levine, Yale Alumni Magazine -- Lee Levine Yale Alumni Magazine "For anyone-conservatives very much included-interested in the continuing controversies surrounding the First Amendment, [Abrams'] writings are an excellent place to start... In defending the First Amendment from all comers, he has the virtue of intellectual consistency, which his example shows is not always a hobgoblin and not always the inhabitant of small minds."-Gabriel Schoenfeld, Weekly Standard -- Gabriel Schoenfeld Weekly Standard "Abrams is, in addition to being a great advocate and legal scholar, a fine writer... The consistency of Abrams's arguments is refreshing and very much in keeping with his absolutist position where First Amendment issues are concerned."-Jim Lafferty, Los Angeles Review of Books -- Jim Lafferty Los Angeles Review of Books



About the author

Floyd Abrams, a partner in the law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reinde, has taught at Columbia School of Journalism, Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School.


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