When I was privileged to be Justice Brennan's law clerk, he had not yet earned even from his own law school the affection and respect that have prompted the editors of this law review, and doubtless many others, to offer an issue in dedication to him. In the three decades following, he made his claim to both unmistakably clear. His extraordinary tenure on the Court produced 1360 opinions, spread over the last 146 of the Court's first 497 volumes. Nearly a decade after his retirement, it is probably still the case that more opinions in constitutional law teaching materials carry his name than any other. Baker v. Car, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, Goldberg v. Kelly, United Steelworkers v. Weber, Frontiero v. Richardson, and Plyler v. Doe stand as monuments to a vision that permitted the best in America to prevail. Less dramatically but typically, United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, NLRB v. Insurance Agents' International Union, American Textile Manufacturers Institute, Inc. v. Donovan, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and School Board v. Arline reflect his unfailing craftsmanship, and his capacity to bring the Court to abiding resolution of the more mundane though important issues that mark both the bulk of its diet and its steadiest contribution to the American legal enterprise. In those cases, particularly, an attorney arguing before him could easily hear in his questions a striving for the approach that might bring the Court to consensus. Not one to show off, or to play at ducks and drakes with attorneys, he earnestly sought the understanding that would foster the best lines of resolution.
Peter L. Strauss,
William J. Brennan, Jr.,
Colum. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/212