Article Title

Judges as Architects


In Representing Justice, Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis call our attention to something hiding in plain sight: the iconography of justice. Their book, now out in the light of day after many years in the making, is a tour de force. It is monumental - literally about monuments to justice. It is also monumental in its scope and ambition, as well as in its sheer size, weight, number of images, and pages of footnotes. This is not a book for the faint of heart, those with lazy minds or, for that matter, those with weak backs.

Resnik and Curtis teach us to see how aspirations for justice are represented literally in the built environment of law. Resnik and Curtis give us permission to linger in the halls of justice, to pay attention to the statues and canvases that grace public buildings devoted to law, to notice the way in which law is a field of aesthetics in addition to being a field of pain and death (as Robert Cover famously reminded us). The art and architecture of law are not merely illustrations, placeholders, or simple representations; they are communicative acts designed to bring viewers into a closer connection with justice. Understanding this public aesthetics of law requires us to engage in "statue-tory" interpretation.