Lawyers, Judges, and the Public Interest

Chares Haar, the Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law Emeritus at the Harvard Law School and a certified elder statesman of the housing and land-use community, was one of those scholar-politicians of the 1960s who spun out innovative theories in law reviews and then moved into government to see them applied. His generation inspired mine to pursue law as a means to serve the public interest. But the days of the Kennedy brothers’ Camelot are long past. Today, big government and “big courts” alike are seen as parts of the problem. In the more austere political climate of the 1990s, however, Charles Haar is not the least bit repentant, and he has found a magnificent topic around which to reaffirm his faith in the capacity of big government and, particularly, big courts to move us collectively toward the just society. In Suburbs Under Siege: Race, Space, and Audacious Judges, Professor Haar dissects New Jersey’s famous Mount Laurel cases, finding in them not only a compelling demonstration of judicial success in the arduous task of law reform, but confirmation that courts can be better than legislatures at such a task.