Book Description

From Publishers Weekly Lobel, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and leftist activist, explains his lifelong commitment to bringing all but hopeless lawsuits against what he sees as the misuse of American power abroad. Lobel specializes in cases challenging the president's making war without congressional authorization. Believing this practice both unconstitutional and dangerous, Lobel has sued to block American use of force in Central America, Iraq and Kosovo. All the author's courtroom efforts have failed. This book offers a sustained meditation on the meaning of success and failure in the context of such policy-driven litigation. In his most persuasive chapters, Lobel points out that for over a century visionaries in this country brought litigation, viewed at the time as futile, to outlaw slavery, to obtain for women the right to vote and to desegregate public institutions such as schools and railroads. Scores of such cases were filed, and almost all of them failed. Yet in the long run, often decades later, the once marginal ideas animating the cases became established as bedrock principles of American life. Lobel is similarly inclined to take the long view of his own courtroom efforts. His cases may have been dismissed, he argues, but they served to keep vital concepts and values before the public. For the author in this compelling book, success and failure are not determined by the immediate outcome of a given case; a lawsuit can be deemed successful if it arises from and gives expression to a valid principle and if it promotes a culture of rights. Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. Read more From Booklist Lobel, an activist lawyer who has worked via the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild to litigate against U.S. military and economic interventions abroad, where defeat was almost ensured, offers a soul-searching challenge to the notion that winning is everything in the practice of law. He offers other alternative values, including his personal preference for the tradition of resistance to unjust laws seen in the struggles for social justice by Jewish and African Americans. He examines the broader values in suits brought by abolitionist lawyers seeking to free fugitive slaves, suffragist Susan B. Anthony's trial for voting illegally, and challenges to segregation laws following the Civil War that resulted in Plessy v. Ferguson. Despite losses along the way in the causes of abolitionists, suffragists, and antisegregationists, the legal challenges they mounted made huge contributions to changing American society. Lobel draws on these past affirmations of higher principles even in defeat to examine how acts of resistance inspire contemporary questioning of the justifications for U.S. military action. Vernon FordCopyright ? American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. Read more See all Editorial Reviews