A memoir that is also a compelling page-turner, Philadelphia Freedom is the poignant, informative, often inspiring account of rewned civil-rights lawyer David Kairys' personal quest for achieving social justice during the turbulent 1960s and 70s. Philadelphia Freedom brings us intimately and directly into Kairys' burgeoning law career and the struggles of the 60s as his professional and private life navigated the turmoil and promise of the civil rights and antiwar movements.Many of the cases Kairys took on involved discrimination and equal protection, freedom of speech, and government malfeasance. Kairys is perhaps most well kwn for his victory in the Camden 28 draft board case, in which the FBI set up a sting of the Catholic anti-war left at the behest of the highest levels of government.The stories and cases range from nationally important and recognizable - the family of the scientist the CIA unwittingly gave LSD in the 1950s; the leading race discrimination case against the FBI; Dr. Benjamin Spock's First Amendment case before the Supreme Court; the city handgun lawsuits Kairys conceived - to those he encountered in his early work as a public defender. The characters include public figures such as FBI Directors J. Edgar Hoover and Louis Freeh; CIA Director William Colby; Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter; New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer; U.S. Attorneys General Edward Levi and John Mitchell; Georgia Goverr Lester Maddox; Pennsylvania Goverr, former Philadelphia Mayor and Democratic National Committee chair Ed Rendell; Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo. But some of the most memorable are t well kwn, involving regular people caught up in the often heartless machinery of the courts and legal system.Though it reads like a vel, with all the elements of character, plot, and suspense, Philadelphia Freedom also has historical significance as a firsthand account of the 1960s and 70s and contains social commentary about race as well as insights and major perspectives on the nature and social role of law.
David Kairys is Professor of Law at Beasley School of Law, Temple University.