“A magnificent portrayal not only of a heroic and brilliant, yet nonetheless flawed Justice, but of the conservation movement of the second half of the twentieth century in which Justice Douglas played a surprisingly central role… [A] highly engaging and richly detailed account.”
—Richard J. Lazarus, Harvard University Center for the Environment

Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas by M. Margaret McKeown

“From one distinguished federal judge of the 21st century, a revealing and inspiring look at one of the great judicial and public figures of the 20th century… Citizen Justice will equip others to care for the planet, and their communities.”
—James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic and co-author of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America

Society of Environmental Journalists named Citizen Justice as First Honorable Mention for the 2023 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, with the judges highlighting “Impeccable research…Clear and fluid prose…entertaining historical tidbits.  The book will stand for the ages as a monument to the man who used his influence…to halt development and establish public parks throughout the nation.”  

“Like her subject, Margaret McKeown is a child of the West, a distinguished jurist, an incisive writer, and a lover of wild places. She brings all those assets powerfully to bear in this long-overdue account of William O. Douglas’s enormously consequential contributions to the modern conservation movement. Douglas was chronically controversial, frequently cantankerous, sometimes conniving, and often cavalier about judicial ethics. But whether on the bench or on the trail, he toiled tirelessly and creatively to protect the wilderness he held so dear. This colorful and compelling book secures his rightful place in the pantheon of environmental champions.”
—David M. Kennedy, Professor Emeritus of American History, Stanford University; Pulitzer Prize for History; author, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945; former director of Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was a giant in the legal world, even if he is often remembered for his four wives, as a potential vice-presidential nominee, as a target of impeachment proceedings, and for his tenure as the longest-serving justice from 1939 to 1975. His most enduring legacy, however, is perhaps his advocacy for the environment.

Douglas was the spiritual heir to early twentieth-century conservation pioneers such as Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir. His personal spiritual mantra embraced nature as a place of solitude, sanctuary, and refuge. Caught in the giant expansion of America’s urban and transportation infrastructure after World War II, Douglas became a powerful leader in forging the ambitious goals of today’s environmental movement. And, in doing so, Douglas became a true citizen justice.

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Photo of Mineral King by Hiking Mike, licensed under CC BY 2.0