Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment” as Want to Read:
Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  292 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The First Amendment puts it this way: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Yet, in 1960, a city official in Montgomery, Alabama, sued The New York Times for libel -- and was awarded $500,000 by a local jury -- because the paper had published an ad critical of Montgomery's brutal response to civil rights protests. The centuries of ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Vintage (first published 1991)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Make No Law, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Make No Law

The Pelican Brief by John GrishamThe Nine by Jeffrey ToobinThe Brethren by Bob WoodwardThe Runaway Jury by John GrishamThe Last Juror by John Grisham
Supreme Court (History & Fiction)
23rd out of 81 books — 102 voters
Off-Topic by G.R. ReaderCivil Disobedience, Solitude & Life Without Principle by Henry David ThoreauOn Liberty by John Stuart MillBanned in Boston by Neil MillerMake No Law by Anthony  Lewis
Free Speech!
4th out of 47 books — 43 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 16, 2016 Grace rated it really liked it
Local girl finishes law school, reads legal history book for fun.
Bob H
Dec 04, 2014 Bob H rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law-history
This book was one reason why I took up the study of law at 50. Anthony Lewis begins with a Supreme Court case and ends up reviewing this country's long experience of free speech controversy. The premise is simple enough: Sullivan v. New York Times, which started as a 1960 civil rights case, involving a defamation lawsuit in Alabama, and ending up as a pivotal Supreme Court ruling on freedom of speech and of the press. The legal importance of the case alone justifies Mr. Lewis' interest.

Apr 26, 2007 Bree rated it really liked it
Shows just why con law is so sexy.
Sarah Elizabeth
Apr 28, 2010 Sarah Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: practical
An engaging account of the case of the NY Times Company vs Sullivan, a case of civil libel filed in 1960 by Montgomery Police Commissioner Sullivan against the New York Times for printing a paid advertisement entitled "Heed Their Rising Voices," an article which, he claimed, libeled him personally.

The content of the article itself was a solicitation for donations to the defense fund of Dr Martin Luther King who was currently incarcerated under charges of tax fraud (the unfounded charges were lat
Daxton Stewart
Jan 06, 2014 Daxton Stewart rated it it was amazing
This book is probably why I went to law school, as well as why I returned to a career in journalism. Wonderful narrative of how free speech emerged as an important value over time in the US. I met Anthony Lewis & got a signed copy. Because I'm a nerd.
Aug 26, 2008 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Unhappy with an editorial advertisement published in the New York Times by the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, L. B. Sullivan, a City Commissioner in Montgomery, Alabama sued the Times for libel in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County for half a million dollars. An all white jury granted the full amount. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld their judgment. The Times appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 1962. It might have argued that Mr. ...more
Hu Xiaodi
Jun 04, 2013 Hu Xiaodi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law
Finally finished reading this book. I'm really glad that the frist book about law I read is this one. I was shocked, excited, touched and inspired while reading it. It's amazing that there's so much effort American people have done to guarantee the freedom of press and speech. It's obvious that the author, Anthony Lewis, has done a lot of work to do research about the case, including the history and opinions about it. There're very detailed reference everywhere, so are the explanations of techni ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Carl rated it really liked it
"Democracy means the power to choose, and choice is an illusion without information." In our country's landmark first amendment cases, various litigants have argued that concerns of national security, obscenity and libel, as this book focuses on, trump this sacred principle. In chronicling these cases, Anthony Lewis provides a refreshing historical backdrop to each one, (re)familiarizing the reader with essential U.S. history. The case at the center of this book, Sullivan v. The New York Times, ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Mara rated it really liked it
Fascinating in-depth look at the NY Times v. Sullivan Supreme Court case, which was decided in 1964 but still has great relevance today. I am a bit of a 1st Amendment nerd, and this book ticked all my boxes. Competing interests of reputation and free speech, government/police abuse of power, the law functioning properly to overturn grave injustice. The sociological commentary presented about the great threat to a free press (and why a free press is so important to a functioning democracy) and to ...more
Randy Carlson
Feb 21, 2014 Randy Carlson rated it it was amazing
Incredibly complex topic. One of the best books I have read because it shows the importance of history in the creation of law. Lewis is not pollyannish about the backfire effect that the Sullivan Case caused with respect to more expensive libel actions. I now have to see if there is a book on TIme vs. Hill, which is, to my mind, even a bigger deal than the Sullivan Case.
Kim Horner McCoy
Nov 17, 2015 Kim Horner McCoy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bought-used, law
You will learn more about the First Amendment and judicial process in this one book than you did in the whole of civics class (if you had one, which you likely didn't). Entertaining and enlightening.
Nov 19, 2015 Ted rated it really liked it
Good historical exploration of a 1961 US Supreme Court case between a city official in Alabama and The New York Times that shaped the future of libel law. Martin Luther King Jr. is part of the story.
Sep 17, 2016 Samantha rated it really liked it
The author has a very easy way of explaining some complicated issues regarding Supreme Court decisions and the First Amendment. His presentation of the history of freedom of speech and press was fascinating and the concrete examples he gives for philosophic and abstract concepts make it all understandable.
Kara Yoh
Jun 27, 2011 Kara Yoh rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. For anyone who hasn't studied law, it is also a really great read. Anthony Lewis explains things very clearly and presents some really great facts that you don't get just from reading the case. I especially enjoyed the chapter which describes what went on during the weeks when the opinion was being circulated, because it gave some insight into what happens behind the scenes at the Supreme Court and how the judges think, decide, and influence each other. Overall a grea ...more
Jun 24, 2007 Jeff rated it really liked it
The primary subject of this book is the Supreme Court case Sullivan vs. New York Times Co., a landmark case in the constitutional law of libel. At the height of the civil rights movement The Times published an advertisement condemning the actions of police in Montgomery, Alabama. Although not mentioned by name, Sullivan, the police commisioner, argued that the advertisement had damaged his reputation. In discussing this case, Lewis also takes the opportunity to present a fascinating history of t ...more
Jul 14, 2009 Jeremy rated it liked it
Pretty interesting work on the history of the First Amendment in American history, and especially the trial of the case Sullivan v. New York Times, but the book didn't always flow smoothly, much of it could have been cut, and it seemed pretty dense in some areas. But Lewis certainly knows his stuff, and he helps readers who have little understanding of the legal discipline and the jargon within.
Oct 19, 2013 zltg rated it liked it
Shelves: law
"We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death." --Holmes dissenting in Abrams v. United States.

The book itself is dry, quoting to much opinions, and too focused on Sullivan, in the expense of other important free speech cases.
Jan 10, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
You can't really grasp the meaning of the First Amendment and the purpose behind modern libel law until you learn this history from Tony Lewis. I wish all the haters of so-called mainstream media could learn their history and understand what it has meant to stand up to government (not that it always works out that way).
Aug 02, 2011 I added it
Wonderful and very readable book about the Freedom of Press in USA from Bill of Rights to Supreme Court judgement in Sullivan Case vs NY Times
Bauer Evans
Sep 27, 2013 Bauer Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: ap-government
Summer reading, for AP Students wanting to understand the story behind this important precedent setting Supreme Court case
Jan 28, 2009 Ashley rated it really liked it
This was required reading for my first year of law school. Very informative on the first amendment and freedom of the press.
Dec 03, 2007 Kara rated it liked it
I actually enjoined learning about the shaky grounds of the first amendment. It is such a tentative "right."
Jul 30, 2008 Brianna rated it really liked it
Essential for anyone interested in the First Amendment and how it operates in the legal system.
Jan 18, 2016 Matthew rated it liked it
good but not as fast-paced or well-written as gideon's trumpet.
Jul 20, 2007 Dawn rated it really liked it
i read this book many year's ago. should probably read it again.
Mar 29, 2011 Penni rated it really liked it
very educational about an important topic.
Matt Ellenberger
Matt Ellenberger is currently reading it
Oct 16, 2016
Arya Diwase
Arya Diwase rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2016
Leo Sheng
Leo Sheng marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the survivors of one of the worst disasters in coal-mining history brought suit against the coal company--and won
  • The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power
  • The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews
  • Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism
  • The Logic of American Politics
  • Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
  • And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest For Racial Justice
  • Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality
  • Contemporary Urban Planning
  • Stories of Scottsboro
  • Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources
  • Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Preparing for the Twenty-First Century
  • Law's Empire
  • International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism, and Beyond
  • Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary
  • A History of American Law
  • China Goes Global: The Partial Power
Anthony Lewis was an American intellectual and columnist for the New York Times.
More about Anthony Lewis...

Share This Book