May 2015 Features

Law Library

LawLibrary_01_nbJudith Resnik ’72 and Dennis E. Curtis: Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (Yale University Press, 2011) maps the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and describes the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—to explore the evolution of adjudication as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy. Described in The New York Times as an academic treatise on threats to the modern judiciary that doubles as an obsessive’s tour of Western art through the lens of the law, Representing Justice may be the only book ever to cite Supreme Court decisions, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, the Peanuts character Lucy van Pelt, the French philosopher/historian Michel Foucault, and the conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. The winner of numerous awards—from the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Legal Writers, the Biennial Award of the Order of the Coif, and named one of the 10 “best legal reads” for 2011 by The Guardian—this elegantly written book examines the longevity of aspirations for justice, the transformation of courts, and the vulnerability of our judicial institutions. Resnik is the Arthur Liman Professor of Law, and Curtis is a Clinical Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

EXCERPT: Many contemporary commentators presume that a blindfold is not only an appropriate but a necessary appendage, displayed on a a Justice to signify law’s impartiality. But, as we detail, clear-sightedness was valorized in Medieval Europe, while covered eyes denoted an inability to see the light of truth. A fool was shown putting a bandage over Justice’s eyes to capture how easily law could be led astray. But in the centuries thereafter, as religious wars were fought, new technologies developed, and political theories of authority challenged, the blindfold gained other connotations. Telescopes, microscopes, and photography demonstrated the complex relationship between sight and knowledge, and psychologists and philosophers puzzled about how fair judgments were shaped. With the rise of epistemological doubt, the blindfold gained a new valence as an emblem of a desirable “veil of ignorance,” to borrow the metaphor of political theorist John Rawls. But others—such as the poet Langston Hughes—protested that Justice’s blindfold hid “two festering sores / That once perhaps were eyes.” His criticism—that legal systems failed to confront the injustices of social and political inequalities—are reiterated in contemporary constitutional conflicts about whether legal rules ought to be “color blind” or to take differential circumstances into account. What Justice ought to “see,” and inferentially to know, continues to be contested.

From Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, by Judith Resnik ’72 and Dennis E. Curtis.

Judith A. Baer ’68: Ironic Freedom: Personal Choice, Public Policy, and the Paradox of Reform (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) poses a question from feminist and liberal theory about the consequences of freedom from governmental interference. Does such freedom make people vulnerable to other sources of coercion? If we legalize physician-assisted suicide, will we force people into it? Did allowing abortion make it compulsory? Did abolishing universal conscription create a “poverty draft”? A professor of political science at Texas A&M and a specialist in public law and feminist jurisprudence, Baer has written widely on women and the law, including the award-winning Our Lives Before the Law: Constructing a Feminist Jurisprudence.

Jennifer Gerarda Brown ’82 and Ian Ayres: Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights (Princeton University Press, 2005) makes the case for a gay-straight alliance in the struggle for gay rights and proposed practical strategies, both legal and economic, for influencing public and corporate decision-making. Brown is the dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Law.

Susan D. Carle ’82: Defining the Struggle: National Organizing for Racial Justice, 1880–1915 (Oxford University Press, 2013) examines the predecessors of the National Urban League and the NAACP—national civil rights organizations such as the National Afro American League, the National Association of Colored Women, and others—that established foundational ideals regarding the treatment of law, civil rights, and justice in society. In 2014, she received the Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for “the author of the best book by a historian on the civil rights struggle from the beginnings of the nation to the present.” A law professor at American University Washington College of Law, Carle specializes in labor relations and employment law, professional responsibility, civil rights, and employment discrimination law.

Patty Gerstenblith ’71: Art, Cultural Heritage, and the Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2012) focuses on the rapidly emerging fields of art and cultural heritage law, including the issues of artists’ rights, the functioning of the art market, and cultural heritage. Gerstenblith, a distinguished research professor of law at DePaul University and director of its Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law, includes recent legal developments, such as the decisions in the Fisk University dispute and the restitution of ancient artworks from U.S. museums to Italy and other countries.

Elizabeth M. Schneider ’68 and Stephanie M. Wildman: Women and the Law: Stories (Foundation Press, 2011) examines landmark cases establishing women’s legal rights and offers accounts of the litigants, history, parties, strategies, and theoretical implications.
The Rose L. Hoffer Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, Schneider is a national expert on gender and law. Her book, Battered Women and Feminist Lawmaking, received the 2000 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers Book Award in the Legal category.

Constance Jordan ’57: Reason and Imagination: The Selected Correspondence of Learned Hand (Oxford University Press, 2013) provides a window into the mind and life of one of the icons of American jurisprudence. Corresponding with the likes of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theodore Roosevelt, Walter Lippmann, and Felix Frankfurter, Hand wrote letters that often read like essays on the events of the day—the Great Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, Brown v. Board—and showcase his interpretations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Jordan, an emerita professor of English and comparative literature at Claremont Graduate University and Hand’s granddaughter, has published widely on the subject of literature and the law.

Janet S. Kole ’68: Pleading Your Case: Complaints and Responses (American Bar Association, 2011) offers an insightful, humorous, and practical approach to pleadings. Veteran litigator Janet S. Kole walks through the steps of drafting a complaint or response and provides helpful tips and strategies to make more effective pleadings that convey the lawyer’s fervent belief in the client’s cause. A founding member of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals and former editor of Environmental Litigation, Kole has practiced law for 30 years. With David M. Spain, she wrote Post-Mortem, which showcases 12 trials that hinged on post-mortem evidence.

Leave a Comment