Man Who Once Was Whizzer White

Dennis J. Hutchinson, Author, Allen Ed. Hutchinson, Author
Dennis J. Hutchinson, Author, Allen Ed. Hutchinson, Author Free Press $30 (592p) ISBN 978-0-684-82794-0
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Justice Byron White, who retired from the Supreme Court in 1993, 31 years after his appointment by President Kennedy, remains a contentious figure. Liberal critics deride a plodding, reactionary, homophobic decision-maker who inadequately protected citizens from government intrusion into their private lives, reneged on support for affirmative action and wrote few memorable opinions. But in University of Chicago law professor Hutchinson's admiring, dry biography, White--Rhodes scholar, college and pro football star (whence the nickname ""Whizzer""), Colorado lawyer, decorated Navy veteran--was a nonideological, self-effacing, principled public servant, a moving force on First Amendment libel and privacy issues. White, a publicity-shy ex-athlete who declined to be interviewed for this bio, even though Hutchinson once clerked for him, is best remembered for dissenting in 1973 on Roe v. Wade, not because he objected to abortion but because he believed there is no constitutional support for such a right. Hutchinson's closely argued, nuanced brief will appeal mostly to legal buffs. (July)
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