Document Type

In Memoriam

Publication Date

2000

Abstract

Herbert Wechsler died at his home on April 26, 2000. Two days later, the New York Times obituary's headline announced the passing of a "legal giant," a richly merited appellation. Herbert Wechsler was, I believe, the greatest academic figure in the history of Columbia Law School. At the height of his career, Herb stood at the top of three academic fields: criminal law, constitutional law, and federal jurisdiction. His achievements were, moreover, not confined to Columbia, the faculty of which he joined in 1933 after having served as law clerk to Justice Harlan Fiske Stone. From 1944 to 1946, Herb served as assistant attorney general in charge of the War Division. When the Nuremberg trials began, he provided technical advice to the American judges. In 1964, he argued New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the most important First Amendment decision of the twentieth century. And, of course, for over two decades, Herb was director of the American Law Institute.

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