Author Archive | Floyd Abrams

A Few Words About “Friend of the Court”

Floyd Abrams was invited to say a few words about his latest book Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment (Yale University Press, 2013). His comments are set forth below.

When one tries to determine which of his articles, speeches, testimony, letters, reviews and the like over a 45-year period are worth publishing in book form, the choices are not easy. It’s not that there are so many imperishable morsels; passing the ugly question of whether anything is worth publishing, there remains the far more prosaic issue of which issues remain live ones, and which positions are worth rearguing.

I had, for example, been dubious about whether to include my 2005 testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in favor of adopting a federal shield law for journalists and more dubious still about including a 1979 speech (the oldest offering in the book) about the same subject. But I thought the issue, rather quiescent in the past few years, could well resurface in the years to come — and then came the Department of Justice with its breathtakingly subpoenas to the telephone companies that serve Associated Press. I cannot offer thanks, but I am appreciative.

So, too, with privacy issues. The conflicting claims of disclosure and privacy have led to far less litigation than I had expected. I decided, nonetheless, to include a speech I gave that is quite critical of the most celebrated and cited law review article ever written, the classic Brandeis-Warren paean to privacy published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890. The renewed discussion, after the terrorist explosions at the Boston Marathon this year, about the amount of cameras that film so many of our activities, has led to renewed discussion of various aspects of privacy and I am pleased [...]

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