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American history
law
political science

The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America

 
 
Author
Thomas Healy.
Publisher Metropolitan  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.25 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 9780805094565
Pages/Publication Date 323/2013
Daedalus Item Code 61239
This item is not available.
Description
In this gripping intellectual history from a former correspondent for the U.S. Supreme Court, Thomas Healy reveals how justice Oliver Wendell Holmes became a free-speech advocate and established the modern understanding of the First Amendment. Well into the 20th century Americans were regularly imprisoned merely for speaking out against the government. Holmes himself had long disdained individual rights, yet in 1919 it was he who wrote a dissenting opinion that would become the canonical affirmation of free speech in the United States. Healy explores the question of why Holmes changed his mind, and reveals a remarkable behind-the-scenes campaign by a group of progressives who had become Holmes's friends.

"Riveting.... Healy's informative and readable account deserves an honored place in the intellectual history of the Supreme Court."—NYTBR

"A longtime skeptic of individual rights, Supreme Court justice Holmes wrote in 1919 the court opinion that solidified free speech rights in American political doctrine. Holmes's change of heart has long been pondered by legal scholars and historians. Drawing on newly uncovered letters and memos, legal scholar Healy recounts Holmes's long, slow process of advocating for free speech at a time of great national turmoil. WWI had recently ended, but the nation faced bombings and explosions, race riots, and the fear of anarchists. The aging Holmes had developed close relationships with several young progressives who challenged his thinking and ultimately changed the way Americans view the First Amendment. Among the persuaders were Learned Hand, then a federal judge, and Harold Laski, then a Harvard professor and contributor to the New Republic. Healy offers a beautifully written history, capturing the lively and passionate debate as Holmes came to see the abiding imperative of free speech and defend it at great cost to his own reputation at the time."—Booklist

 
 
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