In the wake of Watergate, Gerald Ford appointed eminent lawyer and scholar Edward H. Levi to the post of attorney general—and thus gave him the onerous task of restoring legitimacy to a discredited Department of Justice. Levi was famously fair-minded and free of political baggage, and his inspired addresses during this tumultuous time were critical to rebuilding national trust. They reassured a tense and troubled nation that the Department of Justice would act in accordance with the principles underlying its name, operating as a nonpartisan organization under the strict rule of law.
For Restoring Justice, Jack Fuller has carefully chosen from among Levi’s speeches a selection that sets out the attorney general’s view of the considerable challenges he faced: restoring public confidence through discussion and acts of justice, combating the corrosive skepticism of the time, and ensuring that the executive branch would behave judicially. Also included are addresses and Congressional testimonies that speak to issues that were hotly debated at the time, including electronic surveillance, executive privilege, separation of powers, antitrust enforcement, and the guidelines governing the FBI—many of which remain relevant today.
Serving at an almost unprecedentedly difficult time, Levi was among the most admired attorney generals of the modern era. Published here for the first time, the speeches in Restoring Justice offer a superb sense of the man and his work.