Books: The Grand Marshall

A new biography of the Supreme Court Justice measures his greatness as well as his flaws

During an especially low moment of the 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that "for goodness' sake, you can't be a lawyer if you don't represent banks." Thurgood Marshall's legal career proves otherwise. Juan Williams' magisterial biography of the great civil rights lawyer and first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary (Times Books; 459 pages; $27.50), reminds us that there is a difference between the hair-splitting legalisms that dominate the current headlines and the rule of law that changes history. Marshall never represented a bank. His clients were African Americans deprived of their fundamental rights as citizens. His...

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