100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Elmer Gertz

Elmer Gertz

The Definition of Libel

“Somebody Ought to Call a Halt to that Kind of Thing”

Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.

418 U.S. 323 (1974)

Elmer Gertz had a remarkable career as a Chicago lawyer, who, over seventy years in practice, represented some of the country's best-known murder defendants. He also defended author Henry Miller, when Miller's book, Tropic of Cancer, was targeted for violating obscenity laws. Gertz was born in Chicago in 1906. His mother died when he was nine, and Gertz lived in orphanages because his father could not afford to raise his family of six children. Growing up on Chicago's West Side, Gertz was exposed to a richly diverse, multicultural environment, which, along with his education at the University of Chicago, helped to shape his ...

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