Legal thought in this country has always focused on the rules rather than on the persons affected by the rules. Persons and Masks of the Law restores the balance by taking a person-centered view of the law. The author shows how even great jurists have chosen the "masks of the law" over persons, his surprising examples being Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, Benjamin Cardozo, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.--four of the greatest lawyers of the United States.
Noonan discusses how the concept of property, applied to a person, is a perfect mask since no trace of human identity remains. An auction of slaves in Virginia, the takeover of a banana plantation in Costa Rica, and an accident on the Long Island railroad are the famous cases involving these four legal giants. The stories of the litigations at three different periods of our history provide and new and powerful analyses of American law. This book, breaking through the formalism in which jurisprudence is enshrined, offers a new vision of law and represents a call for reform in the education and even behavior of lawyers.
Preface to the 2002 Edition
1. THE MASKS OF THE PARTICIPANTS
2. VIRGINIAN LIBERATORS
3. THE OVERLORD OF AMERICAN LAW AND THE
SOVEREIGN OF COSTA RICA
4. THE PASSENGERS OF PALSGRAF
5. THE ALLIANCE OF LAW AND HISTORY
Notes and References
John T. Noonan Jr. has served as Judge on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit since 1986. He is Robbins Professor Emeritus at Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of prize-winning work in history, philosophy, and theology. His books include The Lustre of Our Country: The American Experience of Religious Freedom (1998), Bribes (1988) and The Antelope: The Ordeal of the Recaptured Africans in the Administrations of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams (1977), all from California.
"Noonan's analyses challenge even as they charm; simultaneously they constitute both pieces of creative scholarship and literary gems. I have read and re-read this slim volume and have strongly recommended it to students as an example of how an imaginative scholar can start with what seems commonplace and force us to reexamine our own conclusions--and occasionally values."—Walter F. Murphy, author of American Constitutional Interpretation
"A classic work, highly influential, widely cited."—Martin Shapiro, author of Seeking the Center
"Persons and Masks of the Law is a brilliant conception, beautifully realized. I congratulate the author on this sparely and wholly expressed idea."—Robert K. Merton, Columbia University
"A beautifully written and probing discussion by an eminent legal philosopher. Professor Noonan strips the façade from judge-made law, and exposes the often unpleasant reality that citizens must confront daily."—Norman Dorsen, New York University School of Law
"I am struck by the timelessness of the work. I have always thought of it as a great book. What I now see is that it is a book that will never be out of date. The reason is simple: it brings a great legal mind of our own time into conversation with the greatest legal minds of the past."—Robert P. George, author of The Clash of Orthodoxies