On Rereading “The Least Dangerous Branch”

Floyd Abrams, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 15, 2012).


For me, rereading The Least Dangerous Branch (TLDB) is to return my first days in Yale Law School – and Alex Bickel’s first days as well. We both entered Yale in the fall of 1956, he as a professor, and I as a student. By alphabetical serendipity I was assigned to his seminar on constitutional law. He was a demanding teacher – brutal to a classmate who dared to cite the Declaration of Independence in class, and dismissive of others who substituted what he viewed as pieties for analysis. In class that first term for both of us, he was difficult in a way that made him a spectacular teacher.