Representing Justice is a book of encyclopedic proportions on the iconography of justice and the organization of space in which adjudication occurs. Professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis have gathered a provocative array of images, ranging from the scales of the Babylonian god Shamash — "judge of heaven and earth" — on a 4,200-year-old seal (pp. 18- 19 & fig. 23), and a 600-year-old painting of Saint Michael weighing the souls at the Last Judgment with sword and scales in hand (p. 23 fig. 25) to the tiny Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais, Minnesota, 110 miles north of Duluth (p. 372 fig. 226), and the millennial opening of a spectacular new courthouse for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany (p. 266 fig. 176). A more richly conceived catalogue of the development of specialized courthouses from multipurpose buildings and the art that adorns adjudicative space is hard to imagine.
Part history, part art history, part architectural theory, and part meditation on the relationship between adjudication and political legitimacy in the spirit of Jeremy Bentham, the book poses fundamental questions about the trajectory of liberal justice in the twenty-first century: is adjudication in public space essential to the rule of law in democratic societies? Can the resolution of civil and criminal disputes be privatized without compromising democratic values? Is justice primarily procedural, linked to courts and adjudication; primarily substantive, tied to substantive rights and the popularly accountable branches of government; or primarily normative, a set of ideals or theories against which the actions of any people and their government may be assessed? Most significantly, what is the relationship between justice, representations of justice, and the material forms the practice of justice takes?