Regarded as one of the top First Amendment lawyer–litigators in the United States, Martin Garbus (1934– ) has participated in numerous cases involving libel and defamation as well as intellectual property and copyright. He has represented many celebrities and authors, including Lenny Bruce, John Cheever, Spike Lee, Nancy Reagan, and Daniel Ellsberg. He was a co-counsel in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), an obscenity case involving motion picture regulation.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Garbus was educated at Hunter College and earned a JD at New York University. He has taught at Yale and Columbia Universities and is a partner with Davis & Gilbert, in Manhattan.
In 2007 Garbus gained national attention when he was retained by Don Imus, a controversial radio personality. Imus had been fired from CBS and MSNBC after making racially insensitive on-air comments about Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team. The wrongful termination case against CBS involved possible breach of contract rather than free speech or free press issues.
Garbus has been critical of the Supreme Court’s approval of various faith-based initiatives promoted by George W. Bush’s administration. He thinks these initiatives impermissibly breach separation of church and state and thus violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Over the years Garbus has written several books, including The Next 25 Years: How the Supreme Court Will Make You Forget the Meaning of Words Like Privacy, Equality, and Freedom (2002) and Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way (with Stanley Cohen) (1998).Send Feedback on this article