Saturday, January 27, 2024

Charles Fried

Mark Tushnet

 One thing the obituaries and tributes to Charles Fried don't pick up on (understandably, I think) is that he was a Harvard loyalist. On every issue I can think of (with one exception), in the back of Charles's mind was the thought, "If Harvard did it, it has to be right." (The exception is that he had an intense dislike for Drew Gilpin Faust, for reasons that I never quite understood though I had the sense that it arose from some personal interactions.) My view is that Harvard loyalism played a large part in Charles's drift away from conservatism, specifically because Barack Obama was highly successful within Harvard Law School. (The president of the Harvard Law Review just had to be better than anyone else on the political scene.) The breach in the dike was of course widened by lots of other things--as Charles said, conversations with his children, the policy and political positions taken by the Republican party, etc.

(In the summer of 2022 I sent Charles a draft chapter of my now-forthcoming book "Who Am I to Judge?," in which I invoke, with some important qualifications, Charles's analysis of what lawyers know (in The Artificial Reason of the Law), and he gave some helpful comments--and said that the chapter was written so engagingly that he felt compelled to read the entire manuscript.)

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