In speech earlier this month to a Chicago law school, Supreme Court Justice Kagan called Thurgood Marshall (for whom she clerked) "the greatest lawyer of the twentieth century...no one did more to advance justice."
High praise indeed.
It's the "advance justice" portion of the quotation that has us wondering.
Marshall was a top-notch appellate advocate and as Kagan stated, he was also a very good trial lawyer- a skill that is oft not considered when looking at Marshall's career.
Lee Bailey and Edward Bennett Williams and Gerry Spence were better trial lawyers in the 20th century than Marshall, but one cannot say they did more to advance the cause of justice. And as Kagan pointed out, Marshall went into courts and trials in the south often under the threat of death. So Marshall faced obstacles Bailey and Williams and Spence never faced.
And finally, we tend to look through the lense of "greatest lawyer" as "greatest trial lawyer" but that's like saying the greatest doctor must be a surgeon.
So, query: Who was a "greater" lawyer than Marshall in the 20th century?
From Occupied America, where the downfall of a president could have started with the indictments today (we can only hope), fight the power!
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