JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming native and chair of the Murie Ranch Committee, Margaret McKeoen will be giving a talk on her latest book, “Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas—Public Advocate and Conservation Champion,” tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Teton Science School’s Jackson campus.
M. Margaret McKeown has served almost twenty-five years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. McKeown first became aware of Justice Douglas when she was snowshoeing through Grand Teton National Park and came across the Murie Ranch. After distinguishing the Muries (Olaus and Mardy), from John Muir, and doing some further research, she became fascinated with the work they had done with their close friend and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and their “protest hikes.”
As McKeown dove into Douglas’ life she realized he lived this double life of a real environmentalist and a Supreme Court Justice. McKeown called Douglas “a bit of a canary in a coal mine,” as he was ahead of his time in respect to bringing issues of pollution and pesticides to the public in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Douglas, or “Wild Bill,” became somewhat of a larger-than-life figure in Washington, and 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. However, his environmental work will be his most enduring legacy.
Douglas’ “protest hikes” became his signature tool to leverage his position as a national icon. He lobbied politicians and policymakers privately about everything from logging to highway construction and pollution, and he protested at the Supreme Court through his “voluminous and passionate dissents,” said McKeown.
“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.”—Richard J. Lazarus, professor of environmental and constitutional law at Harvard Law School
The event is free and open to the public and copies of “Citizen Justice” will be available for sale.