Floyd Abrams on Being a First Amendment Lawyer Professor David Rudenstine and legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams discuss what it takes to please the court.
You practically invented the modern field of first amendment law. Talk about your early involvement in it.
FLOYD ABRAMS: There was no case that said there was a right to tell news, or to have confidential sources. The American TV press had to start from scratch, making law—first amendment law—which didn’t really exist.
In the Pentagon Papers case you represented The New York Times.
We tried to figure out what the first amendment is all about. That’s when it all started.
What specific courtroom advice do you have for our moot court competitors?
Don’t read your brief; don’t avoid difficult questions; and don’t ever play around with the judges.
You’ve argued a lot of Supreme Court cases. Have you ever frozen up?
It’s hard to think on your feet when it’s just you and the microphone and the justices. Be yourself. Work within the framework of who you are. Be straightforward. And
This exchange took place between Professor Rudenstine,
remember, however bad life seems
author of The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the
at that moment, it could get worse.
Pentagon Papers and Abrams at an event during the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.