Read Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment by AnthonyLewis Online


The First Amendment puts it this way: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Yet, in 1960, a city official in Montgomery, Alabama, sued The New York Times for libel -- and was awarded $500,000 by a local jury -- because the paper had published an ad critical of Montgomery's brutal response to civil rights protests. The centuries ofThe First Amendment puts it this way: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Yet, in 1960, a city official in Montgomery, Alabama, sued The New York Times for libel -- and was awarded $500,000 by a local jury -- because the paper had published an ad critical of Montgomery's brutal response to civil rights protests. The centuries of legal precedent behind the Sullivan case and the U.S. Supreme Court's historic reversal of the original verdict are expertly chronicled in this gripping and wonderfully readable book by the Pulitzer Prize -- winning legal journalist Anthony Lewis. It is our best account yet of a case that redefined what newspapers -- and ordinary citizens -- can print or say....

Title : Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780679739395
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 356 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment Reviews

  • Grace
    2018-11-17 05:37

    Local girl finishes law school, reads legal history book for fun.

  • Bob H
    2018-12-13 03:29

    This book was one reason why I took up the study of law at 50. Anthony Lewis begins with a Supreme Court case and ends up reviewing this country's long experience of free speech controversy. The premise is simple enough: Sullivan v. New York Times, which started as a 1960 civil rights case, involving a defamation lawsuit in Alabama, and ending up as a pivotal Supreme Court ruling on freedom of speech and of the press. The legal importance of the case alone justifies Mr. Lewis' interest.However, Mr. Lewis' real contribution, at least to me, are in the background chapters to the case, in which he goes back to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and tells of the ongoing tension between free speech and official power. His discussion of WWI wartime legislation and its aftermath -- a period very much like the post-9/11 era in its attempts to legislate security -- is central to the book.It is here that he acquaints us with the dissents by Justices Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, dissents in freedom-of-speech cases that didn't prevail in that time but burn brightly ever since. One Brandeis quote suffices: "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men ... no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present."Mr. Lewis rightly regards these jurists with awe. Certainly their words are as noble as anything the Founding Fathers wrote on the nature of our liberties. If patriotism means an appreciation of the depth, timelessness and principle of our liberties, then you'll find much of that here.I have read Anthony Lewis' earlier, arguably more famous book, Gideon's Trumpet, another work of homage to our legal system, and would still put Make No Law ahead of it, though I also recommend Gideon's Trumpet as well. But this book did reinforce my own appreciation for this country's liberties and I cannot recommend it more highly.

  • Bree
    2018-11-19 09:41

    Shows just why con law is so sexy.

  • Sarah Sutton
    2018-12-06 03:31

    An engaging account of the case of the NY Times Company vs Sullivan, a case of civil libel filed in 1960 by Montgomery Police Commissioner Sullivan against the New York Times for printing a paid advertisement entitled "Heed Their Rising Voices," an article which, he claimed, libeled him personally.The content of the article itself was a solicitation for donations to the defense fund of Dr Martin Luther King who was currently incarcerated under charges of tax fraud (the unfounded charges were later reversed). The text of the article, however, included an outraged description of heinous crimes against African Americans which had been carried out in Alabama, specifically in Montgomery often under police endorsement.Make No Law, describes the evolution of the case, as well as a concise but thorough history of the civil rights movement during that time. In the middle of the narration of the case, Lewis makes an artistic albeit somewhat abrupt historic flashback-style account of the judicial evolution of First Amendment as it pertains to freedom of speech and issues of libel ranging from the birth of the Constitution through the time of the Sullivan case. He then fast-forwards to the 1960s and continues to narrate the case's journey up to the supreme court and the eventual outcome (no spoilers here!).Also included in the book are a copy of the "Heed their Rising Voices" advertisement and two appendices containing the final text of the Supreme Court Opinion on the case as well as the original draft.Lewis does an excellent job interweaving the narration with appropriate excerpts from Supreme Court Opinions and other legal documents as well as personal notes and letters all of which, though entrenched in period language and legalese, are remarkably easy to follow.Essentially what you have is a historical account of the evolution of the First Amendment as it relates to the freedom of the press and especially concerning cases of libel which is surprisingly, given the nature of the topic, both exciting and relatively easy to follow.

  • Daxton Stewart
    2018-11-29 10:42

    This book is probably why I went to law school, as well as why I returned to a career in journalism. Wonderful narrative of how free speech emerged as an important value over time in the US. I met Anthony Lewis & got a signed copy. Because I'm a nerd.

  • Mike
    2018-11-29 04:40

    Anthony Lewis, author of book length treatments of topical interest here writes a surprisingly relevant account of the seminal First Amendment case New York Times v. Sullivan. He gives us a perspective of what libel law was like before the 1964 Sullivan decision. The overlap of constitutional restriction embodied in the First Amendment and civil suits between private parties has since reached beyond public officials to "matters of general concern" thus giving appellate courts a tool to limit libel plaintiffs and juries who are often sympathetic to them. Mr. Lewis is able to take a published decision of the Supreme Court and give the story behind it, which I found enormously interesting and relevant to current evolving issues. Published in 1991, the story is relevant to why we are who we are and how we got to this place in history.

  • Kat McKay
    2018-12-03 05:24

    Very informative study of the case that shaped current libel and First Amendment case law.

  • Sophia Ramos
    2018-12-05 02:51

    CD, Had to read this for school, and it took me forever to do so. It is an extremely involved read that requires you to take it a little at a time and really masticate the topic at hand. I will confess to skimming the last quarter of the book, because it was starting to feel like the poor dead horse had been beaten quite enough. I'm really fascinated by the subject, which is why I soldiered on, and it's excellent material, but often felt repetitive or digressive.

  • Bruce
    2018-12-05 05:40

    Unhappy with an editorial advertisement published in the New York Times by the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, L. B. Sullivan, a City Commissioner in Montgomery, Alabama sued the Times for libel in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County for half a million dollars. An all white jury granted the full amount. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld their judgment. The Times appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 1962. It might have argued that Mr. Sullivan, who was never named in the advertisement critical of “Southern violators of the Constitution.” Instead it argued that the first amendment to the federal constitution gave the press the right to criticize the conduct of a public official. In 1963 the Court decided to hear the case. Traditionally, following English common law, American legislatures and court considered libel and slander as exception to the freedom of speech and press granted by the first amendment, in the same way that blackmail or perjury were beyond its protection. Also libel was generally a matter of state rather than federal law. It was also unusual for the federal court to hear an appeal on a case that had, up until this point, been heard entirely in state courts. It was even more unusual when the federal Supreme Court published its unanimous decision in 1964 to reverse the Alabama ruling.Lewis gives an excellent presentation of the historical background of the case and the legal issues involved in the decision. He traces the history of the First Amendment back to its origins in the first Congress and before, and looks at the legal tensions between American government and press beginning with the Sedition Act of 1798 and going forward through the Sullivan decision and on though 1991 when this book was written. There are stops along the way to discuss other cases that had a significant impact on press law, and a chapter on the opinions of Justices Oliver Wendell Homes and Louis Brandeis. Appended are reproductions of a first draft of the decision by Justice William Brennan followed by the final Opinion of the Court and Concurring Opinions by Hugo Black and Arthur Goldberg. A reproduction of the original editorial advertisement is also included.

  • Carl
    2018-12-01 03:37

    "Democracy means the power to choose, and choice is an illusion without information." In our country's landmark first amendment cases, various litigants have argued that concerns of national security, obscenity and libel, as this book focuses on, trump this sacred principle. In chronicling these cases, Anthony Lewis provides a refreshing historical backdrop to each one, (re)familiarizing the reader with essential U.S. history. The case at the center of this book, Sullivan v. The New York Times, deals with an advocacy ad taken out in The New York Times in the early 1960's deploring state sponsored segregation then taking place in Alabama, specifically actions of the local police against local students and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The police commissioner takes personal offense at the ad and claims that not only was it factually inaccurate but also personally libelous. What follows is a gripping story taking place in the Supreme Court concerning the press and citizen's right to publicly criticize its elected leaders, whether the criticism be true, factually inaccurate, or a matter of opinion. The good parts of the book are matched by some equally difficult chapters detailing the lengthy stream of drafts written by Supreme Court justices and their accompanying logic in deciding Sullivan v. The New York Times, as well as the maneuvering necessary to form a majority coalition of judges. There were times during these chapters when I wanted to put the book down but fortunately I stayed with it as it offered a fascinating history of the ramifications of their decision in this historic case in the years to come. Equally enjoyable but more comforting was reading the opinions of Supreme Court justices who obviously have the highest respect for the value of a free 'marketplace of ideas'.

  • Hu Xiaodi
    2018-11-15 10:51

    Finally finished reading this book. I'm really glad that the frist book about law I read is this one. I was shocked, excited, touched and inspired while reading it. It's amazing that there's so much effort American people have done to guarantee the freedom of press and speech. It's obvious that the author, Anthony Lewis, has done a lot of work to do research about the case, including the history and opinions about it. There're very detailed reference everywhere, so are the explanations of technical terms. When I read the first three chapters, I was really shocked: what happened two hundreds years ago in the states hasn't happened in China yet. There were people trying to figure out and fight for the freedom. But they failed and the government became even stronger since people, also the media couldn't talk about or criticize at all. The situation was getting worse and now it seems to get a little bit better due to the fast developing Internet. In a word, it's somehow "out of control".I'm extremely interested in how the justices try to define all the accusations, how they explain the fist amendent in different times and cases. It takes such a long time to gradually make everything clear. But there's always a core to all the questions. I think it's the same when you want to establish rules for a community, no matter it is in the real world or on the Internet. And when you want to make progress, you have to listen to and protect the dissents. For individuals, they should do that too, trying to listen to and understand what they don't like. I like the ending of the book a lot since the author raises a question: why did this happen in the United States instead of anywhere else in the world? His answer is interesting. I totally agree with him.

  • Mara
    2018-11-23 09:42

    Fascinating in-depth look at the NY Times v. Sullivan Supreme Court case, which was decided in 1964 but still has great relevance today. I am a bit of a 1st Amendment nerd, and this book ticked all my boxes. Competing interests of reputation and free speech, government/police abuse of power, the law functioning properly to overturn grave injustice. The sociological commentary presented about the great threat to a free press (and why a free press is so important to a functioning democracy) and to the Civil Rights movement itself is very well done. This decision has influenced the world but also, as Lewis points out, uniquely reflects American optimism about the marketplace of ideas and the importance of robust discussion where the best idea will eventually win out... I do wonder if those who are casually reading might think it's a little too detailed. I definitely read it slowly because it's so dense.

  • Kara Yoh
    2018-12-07 08:50

    I really enjoyed this book. For anyone who hasn't studied law, it is also a really great read. Anthony Lewis explains things very clearly and presents some really great facts that you don't get just from reading the case. I especially enjoyed the chapter which describes what went on during the weeks when the opinion was being circulated, because it gave some insight into what happens behind the scenes at the Supreme Court and how the judges think, decide, and influence each other. Overall a great book and it gave me some other books to check out.

  • Jeff
    2018-11-17 10:29

    The primary subject of this book is the Supreme Court case Sullivan vs. New York Times Co., a landmark case in the constitutional law of libel. At the height of the civil rights movement The Times published an advertisement condemning the actions of police in Montgomery, Alabama. Although not mentioned by name, Sullivan, the police commisioner, argued that the advertisement had damaged his reputation. In discussing this case, Lewis also takes the opportunity to present a fascinating history of the first amendment.

  • Randy Carlson
    2018-11-20 08:24

    Incredibly complex topic. One of the best books I have read because it shows the importance of history in the creation of law. Lewis is not pollyannish about the backfire effect that the Sullivan Case caused with respect to more expensive libel actions. I now have to see if there is a book on TIme vs. Hill, which is, to my mind, even a bigger deal than the Sullivan Case.

  • Samantha
    2018-12-02 09:31

    The author has a very easy way of explaining some complicated issues regarding Supreme Court decisions and the First Amendment. His presentation of the history of freedom of speech and press was fascinating and the concrete examples he gives for philosophic and abstract concepts make it all understandable.

  • Jeremy
    2018-11-26 10:34

    Pretty interesting work on the history of the First Amendment in American history, and especially the trial of the case Sullivan v. New York Times, but the book didn't always flow smoothly, much of it could have been cut, and it seemed pretty dense in some areas. But Lewis certainly knows his stuff, and he helps readers who have little understanding of the legal discipline and the jargon within.

  • zltg
    2018-11-30 06:33

    "We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death." --Holmes dissenting in Abrams v. United States.The book itself is dry, quoting to much opinions, and too focused on Sullivan, in the expense of other important free speech cases.

  • Mark
    2018-11-20 02:32

    You can't really grasp the meaning of the First Amendment and the purpose behind modern libel law until you learn this history from Tony Lewis. I wish all the haters of so-called mainstream media could learn their history and understand what it has meant to stand up to government (not that it always works out that way).

  • Kim Horner McCoy
    2018-11-30 10:43

    You will learn more about the First Amendment and judicial process in this one book than you did in the whole of civics class (if you had one, which you likely didn't). Entertaining and enlightening.

  • Bauer Evans
    2018-11-28 07:27

    Summer reading, for AP Students wanting to understand the story behind this important precedent setting Supreme Court case

  • I
    2018-11-27 08:22

    Wonderful and very readable book about the Freedom of Press in USA from Bill of Rights to Supreme Court judgement in Sullivan Case vs NY Times

  • Dawn
    2018-12-06 10:49

    i read this book many year's ago. should probably read it again.

  • Kara
    2018-11-29 02:27

    I actually enjoined learning about the shaky grounds of the first amendment. It is such a tentative "right."

  • Ted
    2018-12-10 06:47

    Good historical exploration of a 1961 US Supreme Court case between a city official in Alabama and The New York Times that shaped the future of libel law. Martin Luther King Jr. is part of the story.

  • Ashley
    2018-11-16 03:51

    This was required reading for my first year of law school. Very informative on the first amendment and freedom of the press.

  • Matthew
    2018-11-17 06:49

    good but not as fast-paced or well-written as gideon's trumpet.

  • Penni
    2018-12-04 07:46

    very educational about an important topic.

  • Brianna
    2018-11-28 04:35

    Essential for anyone interested in the First Amendment and how it operates in the legal system.