There were many references last week in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright to Anthony Lewis's groundbreaking work of legal journalism, Gideon's Trumpet, which has never been out of print. In an obituary in today's New York Times, Michigan Law School's legendary criminal procedure Professor Yale Kamisar observes, “There must have been tens of thousands of college students who got it as a graduation gift before going off to law school."
Lewis's death today at the age of 85 provides an occasion to remember that his talent and accomplishments extended far beyond the triumph of Gideon's Trumpet. This story from the NYT's obituary about Lewis's assignment by Scotty Reston to cover the Supreme Court is an illustration:
Mr. Lewis’s coverage of the court impressed Justice Felix Frankfurter, who called Mr. Reston. “I can’t believe what this young man achieved,” Justice Frankfurter said, as Mr. Reston recalled in his memoir, “Deadline.” “There are not two justices of this court who have such a grasp of these cases.”
In addition to three children and seven grandchildren, Lewis is survived by his wife, former Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who retired in 2010 to care for Lewis. In 2003 Marshall authored the Massachusetts court’s landmark decision recognizing a right to same-sex marriage.