Brennan Book, Many Years in Making





n 1986, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal made an unprecedented secret deal with Justice William J. Brennan Jr., who had by then served on the Supreme Court for 30 years and was its leading liberal voice.

“I basically would sneak up to his chambers at 7 o’clock in the morning and interview him and go through papers,” the reporter, Stephen Wermiel, said last week. Over the next four years, Mr. Wermiel conducted 60 hours of interviews....

The idea behind their arrangement had been that Mr. Wermiel would produce a biography of Justice Brennan after he retired. That happened in 1990. But the years passed and no book appeared. Justice Brennan died in 1997....

Mr. Wermiel said the task had overwhelmed him. “I don’t mind saying it was part writer’s block and part other obligations,” he said.

In 2006, Mr. Wermiel recruited Seth Stern, a reporter at Congressional Quarterly and a graduate of Harvard Law School, to rescue the project.

The book, written mostly by Mr. Stern and credited to both men, was finally published Monday. It is called “Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion.”...


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