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Anthony Lewis


Mr. President, it is my privilege to present Anthony Lewis, distinguished journalist.

A generation ago, Anthony Lewis attracted attention in his profession as an energetic and enterprising young Washington reporter. He then joined the staff of The New York Times, the nation’s greatest newspaper, and after a year of study at the Harvard Law School became that paper’s Supreme Court correspondent. His reports on the court’s opinions are still remembered, by the lay public and members of the Bar, as models of clarity, comprehensiveness, and literary grace. He displayed a sure-handed mastery of the precise facts, the complex issues, and the controlling precedents in each case. With a nicely balanced sense of discretion, he shared with his readers his knowledge of the different styles of thinking of the nine justices and of the human atmosphere in which they and their clerks performed their high tasks. Only his journalistic colleagues were fully aware that much of his best reporting was done in the unremitting haste commanded by the Supreme Court’s curious work schedule and the newspaper’s deadlines.

To the lasting regret of many of his admirers, Mr. Lewis left the Supreme Court to go to London. But in the field of foreign correspondents, he again distinguished himself. For more than six years, he sent back reports from London that gave an accurate and perceptive account of contemporary Britain, its government, its economic successes and failures, its diplomacy, its enduring institutions, and the foibles and folkways of its peoples.

In more recent years, Mr. Lewis has moved to our sister city of Cambridge and assumed yet another of the journalist’s responsibilities, that of commentator. To the surprise of some, he brings to his column not only the legal scholar’s mastery of fact and nuance but also a thirst for justice and a scorching indignation about man’s inhumanity to man that is reminiscent of an Old Testament prophet. He excoriates racism whether it be found in a ghetto in South Africa, a town in Mississippi, or a city in Massachusetts. He inveighs against the needless waste of poverty in this richest of lands. He cries out in behalf of peace and is not reluctant to protest against the shrill cry of chauvinism in the South Atlantic, of self-righteousness in the Middle East, or of the gathering thunder of nuclear terror.

As reporter, Supreme Court analyst, foreign correspondent, and political commentator, Anthony Lewis has exemplified the highest standards of journalism. May his words of counsel long be heard in our midst.

Mr. President, in recognition of Anthony Lewis’ accomplishments, and on behalf of the trustees, faculty, and students at Clark University, I ask that the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, be conferred upon him.