Mastering Boston Harbor chronicles how America’s most glorious and historically significant harbor was rescued from decades of pollution and neglect by a community of caring citizens who were linked to an environmentally committed judge and his special harbor master. This dynamic public–private team shaped novel legal and political procedures for governing and restoring the harbor.
Charles M. Haar provides a fascinating study of the convergence of judicial supervision with political, environmental, financial, and technological interests. He challenges those who will instantly decry an “activist” judiciary and pulls back the curtain on the serious problems a court faces when it must grapple with an intractable problem affecting public interest. Haar demonstrates that at times only a resolute judiciary can energize and coordinate the branches of government to achieve essential contemporary social goals—goals that are endorsed and supported by a majority whose voice is often ignored in legislative and executive back rooms.
Because of his experience as special master in the dispute, Haar provides the reader with an insider’s view of a modern brand of judicial decision-making that is not anti-majoritarian, and could be applied to similar crises in which the legislative and executive branches of government are impotent. Citizens concerned about the conflict between unbridled economic liberty and environmental protection will gain important insight from this eyewitness account of how the “harbor of shame” became a vibrant focal point for the renewal of Boston as a world-class city.