Edward De Grazia (1927-2013) was a lawyer and professor who specialized in defending creators of expressive works from obscenity and other related charges. He represented the likes of comic Lenny Bruce and author Norman Mailer in his distinguished legal career.
Born in 1927 in Chicago, he earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago. He later worked in Washington D.C. at the law firm of Kirkland, Green, Martin, and Ellis.
In 1976, he joined the faculty at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York, where he taught until his retirement in 2006. De Grazia handled several obscenity cases that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer novel defended
He represented Grove Press and its owner Barney Rosset, who published Henry Miller’s novel Tropic of Cancer and others books that contained sexual themes. In Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed a judgment by a Florida appeals court that Tropic of Cancer was obscene and could not be distributed in the state of Florida.
He filed an amicus brief with Melvin Wulf for the American Civil Liberties Union in Freedman v. Maryland (1965), a case in which the Court invalidated a Maryland movie-censorship statute. He also filed amicus briefs for the Law and Humanities Institute in such First Amendment cases as Hustler v. Falwell (1988) and Massachusetts v. Oakes (1989).
De Grazia wrote a book on obscenity law, Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius (1992). He also was a playwright.Send Feedback on this article