Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Fall 2015, Vol. 24, No. 2

In Honor Of Joe Sax: Appreciating His Takings Scholarship

by Holly Doremus*

Joseph L. Sax passed away on March 9, 2014. His passing was a great loss for his family, friends, colleagues, and for the large community of his professional followers and admirers. It will be some time before we can truly comprehend his contributions to the fields of environmental, natural resources, and cultural resources law. Nonetheless, I was asked to make a preliminary effort at the 17th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulation, at the UC Davis School of Law in the fall of 2014. The result was an essay later published in the Vermont Law Review, which I adapt here.1

A brief essay cannot, of course, come close to capturing all of Professor Sax’s contributions. Luckily it need not attempt to do so. During his lifetime there were multiple, well-deserved celebrations of Professor Sax’s scholarship and other contributions. He squirmed as he sat through those presentations, but he also appreciated the tangible confirmation of his colleagues’ admiration and respect for his work.

Two major scholarly celebrations provide excellent places to get to know Professor Sax’s writing, its context, and its influence. The first is a symposium that appeared in Ecology Law Quarterly in 1998, based on a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools.2 That collection includes contributions from an all-star line-up: Thomas Merrill, Carol Rose, Buzz Thompson, Sally Fairfax, and Zyg Plater, ably covering the many different faces of Professor Sax’s scholarly identity. The second, which appeared in the Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy in 2008, includes several short appreciations by his close friends and colleagues, including John Leshy, Dan Tarlock, Hap Dunning, Buzz Thompson, and Joe DiMento. And after Joe’s passing there was an outpouring of published personal reflections, tributes, and obituaries.3

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