The XX Factor

Lady Justice Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes

Sometimes Lady Justice wears a blindfold to demonstrate her impartiality and sometimes because a fool is taking away her sight. Sometimes the blindfold comes off to show that she has new vision. Usually she carries a sword, but not in Canada, where she has a cornucopia. When a WPA mural portrayed her as dark-skinned in one American courthouse, she ended up behind curtains.

My friends Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, Yale Law School professors, have written an incredibly ambitious book, Representing Justice , which traces the evolution of courthouse imagery while making a powerful argument about access to justice and the threats to it. It’s the meatiest coffee table book you’ll run across, I promise. For an appetizer, check out Randy Kennedy’s smart take on the book in the New York Times with a fabulous Lady Justice slide show . And here’s my personal favorite, Diana K. Moore’s sculpture, which is in the federal courthouse in Concord, N.H.