The Law: Conservative Libertarian

At 74, Senator Samuel J. Ervin Jr. looks and sounds like the quintessential Southern Congressman. Jowls drooping and eyebrows cascading, he drawls tall tales about good ole boys back home in hill-country North Carolina. In rambling Senate speeches, he quotes the Bible, Jefferson and Kipling; he opposes most civil rights bills and accuses the Supreme Court of killing the Constitution's meaning by "verbicide." But for all his Claghornian pomp and ceremony, Sam Ervin is no archetypal Southern reactionary. He is in fact one of the Senate's ablest civil libertarians.

As chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, Ervin has long taken...

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