First Amendment News 283: Noted media lawyer and scholar Lee Levine retires

First Amendment News 283: Noted media lawyer and scholar Lee Levine retires

2021-01-13 19:11:57

"He is and has long been a great lawyer, a distinguished teacher of lawyers and an indispensable defender of the First Amendment." That's how Floyd Abrams tagged Lee Levine, the man to whom this issue of First Amendment News is dedicated.

Since his days in the Yale Law Journal when he published a student paper titled "The Editorial Process and the Gertz Public Figure Standard," to the prestigious media law firm he later co-launched merged with Ballard Spahr, on the First Amendment cases that he successfully argued in the Supreme Court (Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc. v. Conughton and Bartnicki v. Vopper), until testified for Congress on shielding sources from reporters, to the treatise he co-authored the law on news gathering, at the book he co-authored Justice Brennan and New York Times v. Sullivan scientific articles, to co-founder of the First Amendment Salons, and more! In all those ways, Lee Levine has been a tough and learned figure in the law and history of the free press and free speech in America.

Therefore, on the occasion of his retirement from the day-to-day practice of the law, I am confident that I speak to many in our community and wish Lee all the best in the years to come. And may he continue to give his wise counsel, if only for selfish purposes, on those matters that determine the future of the First Amendment.

To give readers an outline of Lee & # 39; s lifelong work, I have highlighted some of his many achievements. But before we got into that, some of Lee & # 39; s friends and colleagues wanted to say a few words on his behalf.

The size of the man

  • “Lee and I were in the same class at Yale Law and became good friends while working on the Yale Law Journal. Lee knew from the start of law school where he was going – to media attorney. He was lucky because that's what he was born for, and he knew it! The result is a career of great benefit to Lee & # 39; s clients and to the First Amendment. He has earned a rewarding next stage of life. "- Paul M. Smith
  • “Lee Levine is a giant in our field. His excellence as a media lawyer is only surpassed by his cheerful collegiality and warmth as a person. His retirement marks the end of an era. "- Robert Corn-Revere
  • Lee is an outstanding attorney, whose excellence in legal writing and analysis resulted in reported decisions on important issues for media companies, and set a high bar for the rest of us to follow. He is also one of the most honorable and decent people I know. A brilliant legal mind and good heart don't always go hand in hand (some may even say "rarely"!), But Lee is the exception. "- Kelli Sager
  • “Lee is one of a kind. Clients and colleagues all know him as an excellent attorney, a gifted scholar, and a leader in the First Amendment and media bar. For those of us who have had the incredible privilege of practicing with him, he has also been an exceptional colleague, an inspired mentor, and a true human being. "- Seth Berlin
  • Lee is an irreplaceable treasure of the media defense bar. As a defender of the First Amendment, his freedom of understanding of the law is unsurpassed, judgments are solid, strategies are inspired. As the leader of our law firm, he had the unique ability to uplift others and motivate all of us to succeed. Lee was able to turn ideas into action and engage people for his charities. Lee taught me a lot about law and life, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with him for the past 20 years. As he develops into a full-time author (and golfer), I will miss his insights, strength and support, but I look forward to his continued friendship and reading the fruits of his efforts! "- David A. Schulz
  • Lee Levine has long been one of the most dedicated, thoughtful and dynamic defenders of the freedom of the press and expression. He leaves a strong legacy that will help sustain strong, independent news media for years to come. "- Stephen Wermiel

Lee Levine: a sketch for a portrait

Yale Law Journal

  • Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal in 1979 (Full. 88).

Judicial internship

  • Served for Irving R. Kaufman, then Chief Justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Law firms

  • One of the founding attorneys of the highly regarded First Amendment media law firm, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, who merged with Ballard Spahr in October 2017.
  • Was an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center from 1989 to 2016.

Congressional Testimony



C-SPAN performances


  • "Pear v. United States, "Newseum, (June 16, 2016) (" The issues involved in the Apple cell phone controversy were discussed before an apparent Supreme Court "- Lee Levine served as one of the judges, see, for example, his comments at 29:50 , 41: 39, 56:09 and 1:00:42)
  • "Independent media and the rule of law, ”Panel Discussion, National Archives (June 2018)

Court grants cert. in three First Amendment cases

Court denies cert. in three First Amendment cases

Hudson on Trump, sedition, and the First Amendment

Upcoming handbook on freedom of expression

In this installment of the World Citizen Comics series, Ian Rosenberg and Mike Cavallaro create a practical framework to appreciate where our protections of freedom of speech come from and how these may evolve in the future.

Freedom of speech has been fiercely defended in America and has been since the First Amendment was written. But how does it work and what laws do it form?

Drawing on parallels between ten groundbreaking Supreme Court cases and current events, Free Speech Handbook explains the fundamentals of the First Amendment Act in an accessible and engaging way.

Seton Hall Law Reviews publishes symposium issue on Justice Holmes dissent in Abrams


  • Thomas Healey
  • Robert Post
  • David Rabban
  • Laura Weinrib
  • Joseph Blocher
  • James Weinstein
  • Tim Wu
  • Vincent Blasi
  • Frederick Schauer
  • Jeremy Waldron
  • Burt Neuborne

New scientific article on "fighting words" cases

Institute for Free Speech: paid summer internship

We have a new summer program that offers law students a unique opportunity to explore a career in the public interest and First Amendment to the law. The program is open to students who have completed their first or second year of law school in the summer of 2021.

Fellows are eligible to earn $ 10,000 in salary for their 10 weeks of employment.

Please share this opportunity with your strongest students who are interested in the First Amendment. Students can learn more about the opportunity and apply here.

Fellows are expected to work full-time for 10 weeks at our Washington, D.C. headquarters, but other arrangements may be available for particularly excellent candidates. Given the ongoing pandemic, the possibility remains that fellows will work remotely for all or part of the summer.

Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis and early applicants are likely to have a competitive advantage. Applications received after March 1, 2021 will not be eligible for a paid fellowship of $ 10,000, although other opportunities may be available.

At The Volokh Conspiracy

2020-2021 SCOTUS Term: Free Speech and Related Matters

Business decides

  • McKesson to Doe (per curium, 7-1 with Thomas, J., dissent) (verdict cleared and returned to 5th Cir.)

Cases quarrel

Cert. granted

Pending petitions

Cert. denied

First amendment related

Last scheduled FAN

This article is part of First Amendment News, an editorially independent publication edited by Professor Ronald K. L. Collins and hosted by FIRE as part of our mission to educate the public on First Amendment issues. The views expressed are those of the author (s) of the article and may not reflect the views of FIRE or Professor Collins.


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