Posts Tagged ‘Essentially Contested America’

Moving Forward with ECA

Written by John Culhane on March 10th, 2010

I was a colleague of Bobby Lipkin’s. His enthusiasm for the project was the main inspiration for my own, Word in Edgewise, where I blog about all manner of things legal, social, and personal (quite differently than Bobby did, of course). Shortly after his shocking death, I offered these thoughts, but I urge you to read through the testimonials on this site (especially this one) to get a real sense of who the man was, and what his passion meant to others.

As I logged in tonight, I noted that Rebecca Zietlow had just brought forth the exciting news that this blog will continue, with Bobby’s co-bloggers (Rebecca and Henry L. Chambers, Jr.) now being joined by Jim Chen and, soon, some of Bobby’s colleagues at Widener. (I’m putting this consortium together now; stay tuned for further information.) This idea stemmed from a conversation I had with the webmaster, Cassandra King, where we started with the notion that the site would be archived but eventually moved to an aha! moment: Let’s keep the blog alive, and true to Bobby’s mission, as set forth in his very first two posts, filed on the same day in late October 2006:

How should we respond to the essential contestability of concepts and the burdens of judgment? Deliberatively! Pragmatically! We need to provide reasons for our conclusions, vigilantly check and re-check these reasons, take seriously the opposing conclusions of others, and with humility try to formulate the most comprehensive perspectives possible. At that time we will either have achieved consensus, or what is so much more likely, we will have refined our conflicts so that we understand just what is at stake.

Then, more concretely, he added:

The meaning of America has always been essentially contested. We all believe in freedom and equality. But then why do we disagree so stridently about public policy? Just what does America stand for if it stands for anything at all? Are we a libertarian nation, one that valorizes liberty to the exclusion of all other competing values? Or is collective, legally enforced altruism our creed? Examining these choices, and a host of similar choices, will be one of this blog’s goals.

We can only hope to approach Bobby Lipkin’s level of insight, passion and humanity. But that won’t stop us from trying.

Missing Bobby

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on March 10th, 2010

Like many of my colleagues in constitutional law, I was shocked and saddened to hear of Bobby’s passing. I first met Bobby through a Con Law listserve. I always enjoyed reading his comments, and I couldn’t help but noticing that his many inquiries seemd to track exactly my thoughts and research at the time. I contacted him, and thus began our friendship. I have since learned that many people have had the same experience. Bobby was both thoughtful and prolific, and he always approached his subjects with an original perspective. At the same time, he respected the opinions of others who disagreed with him and he was always interested in engaging in dialogues. Bobby was unbelievably supportive of junior colleagues such as myself. I have committed myself to returning to blogging in his memory because I know how important this blog was to Bobby. I already miss his gentle reminders when I missed a posting date, but I will do my best to honor his memory by continuing to engage in a critical exploration of constitutional law and politics.