I recently read an book review by Anthony Lewis about a new biography of Justice William Brennan (Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel .) For those who don’t know, Brennan was a Supreme Court Justice from 1956 to 1990 and was one of the leading progressives who helped shape Constitutional Law throughout that period. He was known as a liberal who could actually get the votes for a majority opinion – not just write powerful dissents. Anthony Lewis explains how Brennan was able to get his colleagues to vote for his opinions. Lewis’ summary nicely articulates what I believe is the secret formula for effective advocacy:
Brennan’s success “came from intellect, conviction, a strong tactical sense, an eye for the essentials rather than a wish list, and a relationship of good faith and confidence with his colleagues.”
In my 25 years of advocacy work, I have seen the importance of these qualities time and time again, although I have never seen this formula so neatly summarized. Anthony Lewis has provided MACDC, and all of us who engage in advocacy, a succinct and helpful guide for our ongoing efforts.