Edward de Grazia, Professor of Law Emeritus and a founding member of the Cardozo faculty, died on April 11 at the age of 86.
Professor de Grazia was a specialist in human rights litigation, a political activist, and an avant garde playwright. During the 1950s and 60s, he litigated challenges to the censorship of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, and the Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow), among others.
He authored several books, including Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius (1993), a comprehensive history of literary censorship called by Publishers Weekly “a tour de force of literary/legal sleuthing;” and Censorship Landmarks and Banned Films: Movies, Censors, and the First Amendment (1982) (with R. Newman). Professor de Grazia’s plays include The Americans, an anti-Vietnam War play performed at La Mama Experimental Theater, and The Swings, performed at the Gene Frankel workshop.
“Throughout his years at Cardozo, Ed de Grazia was a thoughtful teacher, productive scholar, and passionate advocate of freedom of speech,” Professor and former Cardozo Dean Rudenstine has said. “He used his rare intelligence to participate in groundbreaking litigation, write exceptional books, and influence public policy over many decades.”
His students benefited from his experience and scholarship, especially when taking Freedom and Censorship of Literature, Art and Film, a course he taught for years.
Professor de Grazia taught at the law schools of Catholic University of America, University of Connecticut, Georgetown University, and American University. From 1956 to 1959, he served with the Office of the Director General of UNESCO, Paris, and then as a consultant with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. After receiving both a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Chicago, where he was managing editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, he joined Kirkland, Green, Martin, and Ellis and worked in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
He was born on February 5, 1927 at Chicago to Alfred J. de Grazia, a band and orchestra conductor and Catherine Calogera Lupo de Grazia.
He retired from the Cardozo faculty in 2006. In 2008, he was named Professor of Law Emeritus by YU President Richard Joel.
Read New York Times obituary: Edward de Grazia, Lawyer Who Fought Censorship of Books, is Dead at 86