Holmes and Brennan

59 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2016 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016

See all articles by Howard Wasserman

Howard Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: April 4, 2016


This article jointly examines two legal biographies of two landmark First Amendment decisions and the justices who produced them. In The Great Dissent (Henry Holt and Co. 2013), Thomas Healy explores Oliver Wendell Holmes’s dissent in Abrams v. United States (1919), which arguably laid the cornerstone for modern American free speech jurisprudence. In The Progeny (ABA 2014), Stephen Wermiel and Lee Levine explore William J. Brennan’s majority opinion in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) and the development and evolution of its progeny over Brennan’s remaining twenty-five years on the Court. The article then explores three ideas: 1) the connections and intersections between these watershed opinions and their revered authors, including how New York Times and its progeny brought to fruit the First Amendment seeds that Holmes planted in Abrams; 2) three recent Supreme Court decisions that show how deeply engrained in the First Amendment fabric both cases have become; and 3) how Brennan took the speech-protective lead in many other areas of First Amendment jurisprudence.

Keywords: First Amendment, Free Speech, Freedom of Speech, Free Press, Constitution, Holmes, Brennan

Suggested Citation

Wasserman, Howard, Holmes and Brennan (April 4, 2016). 67 Ala. L. Rev. 797 (2016), Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2758684

Howard Wasserman (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

University Park, DB 2065
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-7482 (Phone)

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