To the Editor:
As one of those interviewed by Evan Mandery for his meticulously researched book, “A Wild Justice,” about the Supreme Court’s capital punishment decisions, I am pleased that it received the praise it deserves from David Oshinsky (Sept. 1). But it is not the case that “no source for the meeting” ending in the agreement between Justices Stewart and White that led to the court’s decision in the Furman case “appears to exist.” The verbatim private conversation between the justices is, of course, unknown, but there is no doubt the meeting was held, that White’s position shifted and he became the decisive fifth vote. By searching out the law clerks who worked closely with Stewart and White, Mandery did what no author before him (including Oshinsky and me) had dared. As a result, multiple sources in the chambers of both justices support on the record his version of what happened.
The writer is the Matthews distinguished university professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law. He was one of the lawyers in Furman v. Georgia.