‘Make No Law’

“Make No Law” is a 1991 book by Anthony Lewis about the Sullivan Case which still establishes the bulk of U.S. Constitutional law about libel law and citizens’ ability to comment on public officials. Much of my activism here, for several years now, including my run for public office, involves stating publicly, at meetings, through my writings and in private, my dissatisfaction with what Council and Commissioners do. To the extent that one Council member challenged me about the appropriateness of some of my statements about him, I decided to read this book. (It was actually recommended to me in this context by a learned friend, or he mentioned it). Besides the famous opinion of the court (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan) by Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., the book includes discussion of dissent by such leading thinkers as John Stuart Mill, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, William Blackstone, Cato, Zechariah Chafee, Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, Oliver W. Holmes, Fred Friendly, Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, but mostly Anthony Lewis, the prize-winning scholar and sage.

I borrowed the book from Palo Alto’s excellent libraries, but you can get yours or suss it out a bit at:


The title of course references the exact wording of the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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