The First Amendment: Its Uses and Abuses
Volume 80, No. 3, Fall 2007
By Anthony Lewis [PDF]

Ladies and gentlemen, this occasion means a lot to me. I go a long way back with Arlin and Neysa Adams, to the Kennedy, or perhaps even the Eisenhower, administration. I have the highest respect for their contribution to the constitutional order of this country. So it is a privilege for me to be giving the second Arlin and Neysa Adams Lecture on the Constitution, following on my friend Judge Louis Pollak.

I am going to talk today about the First Amendment, and I shall begin with a personal note. Sometime in the early 1960s, when I was covering the Supreme Court for the New York Times, Justice Felix Frankfurter invited me to his chambers for a conversation. Justice Frankfurter grew up in the law at the time of the old Court’s excesses in reading protection of property into the Constitution, and he was wary of reading the Constitution too broadly even for libertarian purposes. For this he was criticized for being insufficiently “liberal.” That morning, he was feeling testy on the subject. After discussing it a bit, he suddenly exclaimed, “Liberal? I’ll show you liberal.” He rose from his chair, walked across the room, pulled a volume of the United States Reports from the shelf, opened the book, and handed it to me.

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