UI professor of law named one of most influential in legal history

Local included on list with heavy-hitters

Lee Hermiston

Iowa City Press-Citizen

September 4, 2009

A new book names a University of Iowa law professor as one of the most influential people in American legal history.

UI law professor and Iowa City native Nicholas Johnson is included with some legal heavy-hitters such as John Marshall, Franklin Roosevelt, James Madison, Sandra Day O'Connor and Thurgood Marshall.

The book, "The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law," profiles about 700 people who are considered prominent figures in the history of American law.

The book covers the colonial era to the present.

Johnson is included for his tenure as commissioner of the Federal Communication's Comm-ission from 1966 to 1973. The book notes that Johnson's opposition to a merger of ABC-TV and International Telegraph and Telephone Co. that eventually led to ITT abandoning the merger.

The FCC initially had approved the merger.

Johnson, born in 1934, has taught at UI's College of Law since 1981.

It's kind of overwhelming in a way," Johnson said. "It would be one thing to be compared with all law professors in the country today or all lawyers in the country today, but when you're going back to colonial times, including the first chief justice John Marshall, ... of course, I'm pleased; of course I'm honored."

Two other people with UI connections also are included in the book: Herbert Goodrich and Wiley Rutledge.

Goodrich was a federal judge who taught briefly at UI in the 1920s; Rutledge was dean of the law school from 1935 to 1939 and served as a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1943 to 1949.