Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Anthony Lewis died Monday, at 85 years old, the Associated Press reports. His passing was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, where his wife worked as a chief justice.
For 32 years, Lewis worked as a columnist for the New York Times, championing causes like free speech and human rights. His first Pulitzer was awarded in 1955, for a report that defended a Navy civilian, falsely accused of being a sympathizer for the Communist party. His second win was for a report about the Supreme Court in 1963.
Lewis was also an accomplished author, with his book “Gideon’s Trumpet” telling the story of Clarence Earl Gideon, a petty thief who fought for legal representation. The outcome of the case led to the creation of the public defender system in the United States. A movie adaptation of the novel starred Henry Fonda.
He penned his last “Abroad at Home” column for the Times toward the end of 2001, before retiring. The column warned the U.S. could surrender its civil liberties, following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. In the column he wondered, “Whether our commitment to law will survive the new sense of vulnerability that is with us all after Sept. 11,” before concluding, “It is easy to tolerate dissent when we feel safe.”
Lewis married his wife, Margaret Marshall, in 1984. She retired from her position as chief justice in 2010, to spend more time with Lewis after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, explaining she was leaving “so that Tony and I may enjoy our final seasons together.”