Reporter Who Changed High Court Coverage
April 5 (Bloomberg) — New York Times reporter and columnist Anthony Lewis died last month. He was 85. Many consider the two-time Pulitzer winner to have transformed the way journalists cover the Supreme Court, making complex constitutional issues accessible to a wide audience.
His understanding of the Warren Court’s decisions was so thorough that Justice Felix Frankfurter reportedly told James Reston, the Washington bureau chief for the Times, that “there are not two Justices of this Court who have such a grasp of these cases.”
His best known book was “Gideon’s Trumpet,” about the plaintiff in Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 Warren Court decision that established a right to counsel for poor defendants charged with serious crimes.
Lewis wasn’t a lawyer, but he did attend Harvard Law School on a Nieman Fellowship. While there he wrote a law review article that ended up being cited in a Supreme Court opinion. It was that kind of influence that led to him being labeled “the 10th justice of the Warren court.”