The Hoover Institution Library & Archives has acquired a large increment to the collection of Judge Laurence H. Silberman, one of the most influential conservative judges on the federal appellate bench, whose opinions on Second Amendment rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of press freedom resonated in the decisions of the US Supreme Court and across American jurisprudence. Judge Silberman died on October 2022 at his home in Washington DC at the age of 86.

Mr. Silberman was named to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He remained in full-time service on that bench—widely considered the second-most important judicial body in the country after the Supreme Court—until taking senior status in 2000. He continued hearing cases until shortly before his death and was celebrated among conservatives as a constant if sometimes provocative exponent of judicial restraint, the notion that judges must limit the exercise of their power to the analysis of the legal questions that come immediately before them. Mr. Silberman’s decades on the DC appeals court capped a government career that dated to the administration of Richard M. Nixon, one of several Republican presidents he served. Under Nixon, Mr. Silberman was solicitor of labor, the Labor Department’s top lawyer, and deputy attorney general. Under President Gerald Ford, Mr. Silberman served as US ambassador to what then was Yugoslavia from 1975 to 1976. Judge Laurence H. Silberman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush in 2008. Bush called him “a stalwart guardian of the Constitution” whose “work to strengthen our national security institutions has made Americans safer.”

The increment to the collection of Judge Silberman contains case files, notes on public opinions, speech drafts, and oral histories.

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Jean McElwee Cannon

Curator for North American Collections / Research Fellow

Jean M. Cannon is a research fellow and curator for North American Collections at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives at Stanford University, where she specializes in acquisitions,…

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