Floyd Abrams

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Floyd Abrams
Abrams in 2006
Born (1936-07-09) July 9, 1936 (age 87)
EducationCornell University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
EmployerCahill Gordon & Reindel
Known forFirst Amendment litigation
Efrat Surasky
(m. 1963)
FamilyElliott Abrams (cousin)

Floyd Abrams (born in July 9, 1936) is an American lawyer. A member of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, he has argued in 13 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. Abrams represented The New York Times in 1972 during the Pentagon Papers case, Judith Miller in the CIA leak grand jury investigation, Standard & Poor's and Lorillard Tobacco Company. He also argued for Citizens United during the 2010 Supreme Court case.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Abrams was born in New York City on July 9, 1936, the son of Rae (née Eberlin) and Isadore Abrams.[3] He is of Jewish descent and had a bar mitzvah ceremony.[4][5] His first cousin is Elliot Abrams, President George W. Bush's deputy national-security advisor.[6] He earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1956, and after trying to decide between a PhD in American History and law, he decided to obtain his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1960.[7]

While at Cornell, Abrams participated in Reserve Officers' Training Corps and was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.[5]


From 1961 to 1963, Abrams clerked for Judge Paul Conway Leahy of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.[8] Abrams joined Cahill Gordon & Reindel in 1963 and became a partner in 1970.[citation needed] He was also a Visiting Lecturer at Columbia Law School from 1981 to 1985.[9]

He is the William J. Brennan Jr. visiting Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[citation needed]

He is a member of the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee[10] and a patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative.

In August 2021, Abrams was named to the advisory board of American facial recognition company Clearview AI as of counsel.[11]

In 2022, Abrams began hosting a podcast called Speaking Freely.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Abrams lives in New York City with wife Efrat Surasky, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.[13][14] Together they have a son, Dan Abrams of ABC, as well as the host of Live PD and Court Cam, and a daughter, Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In 2008, he played the role of Judge Hall in the movie Nothing but the Truth.


  • Floyd Abrams Presented with Chambers and Partners' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010[15]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment, (Viking Press, 2005) ISBN 978-0-670-03375-1.
  • Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment, (Yale University Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0-300-19087-8.
  • The Soul of the First Amendment, (Yale University Press, 2017) and ISBN 978-0-300-19088-5.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facial Recognition Start-Up Mounts a First Amendment Defense in Privacy Suits". The New York Times. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  2. ^ Wilson, Chris (2023-09-18). "13 Supreme Court appearances and other important cases in Floyd Abrams' career". American Masters. PBS. Retrieved 2024-01-24.
  3. ^ "Abrams, Floyd 1936–". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  4. ^ Blum, Howard (July 7, 2005). "Q and A With Floyd Abrams". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Does your heritage as a Jew give you a particular affinity as a lawyer for the First Amendment, which protects freedom of religion, freedom of speech and establishes the separation of church and state?
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Floyd Abrams". Interviews with Max Raskin. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  6. ^ Dana, Rebecca (December 6, 2016). "The Abrams Family". The New York Observer.
  7. ^ "Floyd Abrams – first amendment litigator".
  8. ^ "Floyd Abrams delivers annual Salant Lecture". Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  9. ^ "Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP: Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  10. ^ "Members". constitutionproject.com. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  11. ^ "Clearview AI Announces Formation of Advisory Board" (Press release). New York: Business Wire. The LAKPR Group Inc. 2021-08-18. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  12. ^ "Floyd Abrams Speaking Freely on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  13. ^ "Abrams, Floyd 1936–". Contemporary Authors. Cengage. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely. American Masters, episode 3602, September 22, 2023
  15. ^ "Cahill".

External links[edit]