BOSTON — Two-time Pulitzer winner Anthony Lewis, whose New York Times column championed liberal causes for three decades, died Monday at his home in Cambridge. He was 85.
The cause was complications of renal and heart failure, said his wife, Margaret Marshall, a retired chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Mr. Lewis worked for 32 years as a columnist for the New York Times, taking up such causes as free speech, human rights and constitutional law. He won his first Pulitzer in 1955 as a reporter for the now-defunct Washington Daily News defending a Navy civilian falsely accused of being a communist sympathizer, and he won again in 1963 for reporting on the Supreme Court for the New York Times.
His acclaimed 1964 book, Gideon's Trumpet, told the story of a petty thief whose fight for legal representation led to a landmark Supreme Court decision.
Gideon's Trumpet became a legal classic, telling the story of Clarence Earl Gideon, whose case resulted in the creation of the public defender systems across the nation. In Gideon vs. Wainwright, the high court ruled that criminal defendants are entitled to a lawyer even if they cannot afford one. Gideon's victory, Mr. Lewis wrote, "shows that even the poorest and least powerful of men — a convict with not even a friend to visit him in prison — can take his cause to the highest court in the land and bring about a fundamental change in the law."
Mr. Lewis saw himself as a defender of decency, respect for law and reason against a tide of religious fundamentalism and extreme nationalism. His columns railed against the Vietnam War, Watergate, apartheid in South Africa and Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
He wrote his final "Abroad at Home" column for the New York Times on Dec. 15, 2001.