Cover: Pillars of Justice: Lawyers and the Liberal Tradition, from Harvard University PressCover: Pillars of Justice in HARDCOVER

Pillars of Justice

Lawyers and the Liberal Tradition

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Product Details


$40.00 • £32.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674971868

Publication Date: 05/08/2017


224 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

13 halftones


From these spare and elegant profiles emerges a collective portrait of greatness in the law and, more particularly, of Fiss’s conception of what makes law great. In an era when lawyers are often condemned as hired guns, and law is often dismissed as little more than politics in disguise, Fiss’s collection provides a welcome counterpoint by reminding us that law, pursued in the interests of justice rather than material interest or self-aggrandizement, can be a noble profession… Taken together, these essays offer readers a view of constitutional and civil-rights law as a forum for articulating the nation’s most fundamental values; for enforcing those ideals when the political branches are not up to doing so; and for pursuing justice through the application of reasoned judgment. Today, too many lawyers—professors and practitioners alike—reject this approach as naive and overly idealistic; they view law more cynically as just a tool of political action, no different from any other. In this book, Fiss offers concrete evidence, drawn from the lives of others, that this cynicism is not warranted.—David Cole, The Nation

Fiss, an eminent constitutional scholar, offers a warm and generous reflection on the men and women who shaped his life in the law.—Michael O’Donnell, The New York Times Book Review

In his elegant portraits of leading legal figures of our day, Fiss brilliantly captures a particular moment in the recent history of liberalism, one full of the promise that law could make good on its twin commitments to liberty and equality. An important, timely, and unexpectedly moving book.—Lawrence Douglas, Amherst College

This book is a testimonial for all of those who can still believe in the nobility of law—the capacity, as Fiss says, of ‘law working itself pure.’ This is an enormously important message, and it surely deserves to be heard at a time when idealism and faith in law are in very short supply in this country.—Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University

One of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had… A master teacher who had a clear view of the law as an engine of justice and of fundamental values… This book is a book about thirteen of Owen’s greatest teachers and his vision of the law and his heroes in the law—the people who inspired him to carry on this torch of reason. He calls one of his teachers, Aharon Barak, an apostle of the Enlightenment and that’s what Owen Fiss is.—Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center

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