William O. Douglas


THE EDITORS of the Crimson rejoice in the memory of William O. Douglas as we mourn his passing.

For 36 years, longer, and perhaps louder, than anyone before, Douglas fought the tough battle in support of justice from his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporters will remember him for his defense of an absolutely free press; the poor and oppressed should remember him for his defense of their basic social rights; militants from evert spectrum of American politics should thank him for upholding their right to march under any banner. And anyone who hikes the rugged mountains he loved should remember him for insistence that in a society where corporations are granted the rights of an individual, trees, cliffs and meandering rivers deserve no less.

Some charged Douglas with sloppy legal scholarship. But perhaps he simply refused to engage in the formal alchemy of his partners, choosing instead to distill the meaning of the Constitution from his own visions of a new and better, not an old and "prosperous" America.

Douglas said at the time of his retirement that his only hope was that he had left the constitutional watercourse he travelled unpolluted and pristine. In a way few in the court's conservative past or present ever matched, Douglas did just that.


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