Herbert Wechsler

Biographies about law professors aren’t very common — we’re not that interesting or important — but if I could pick a professor to be the subject of a biography it would be Herbert Wechsler. Wechsler was a long-time Columbia professor who managed to be at the center of a lot of major legal disputes in several different fields. From 1944 to 1946, Wechsler was the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the War Division of DOJ, and during that time was in charge of the infamous Korematsu case for the government. He advised the American judges during the Nuremberg trials. In criminal law, he was the leading architect of the vastly influential Model Penal Code. He co-authored with Henry Hart the casebook that invented the field of Federal Courts, still in publication today. He authored one of the most-cited law review articles of all time, Towards Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law. Finally, he litigated and won New York Times v. Sullivan, the famous First Amendment case. What an interesting life. I don’t know how many people would read a full-length biography about him. But I certainly would.