Except for one meeting, which I will describe below, I knew Bob Cover only through his writings. This circumstance was of course a disappointment to me, for our interests were similar, and his death now makes the loss irreparable. But perhaps this is less of a limitation than would normally be the case, for as much as anyone in the law Bob was, and is, actively present in his writing, both as a person and as a mind.-But that dichotomy of person and mind gets it wrong, for what I would like to catch is a sense of fusion or integration: of intellect and passion, sympathy and objectivity, politics and thought, all suffused with the sense that law has meaning, whether we like it or not, and meaning at many different levels-for the slave, or master, or other victim of the law, for the judge torn apart by the injustice of the laws he is sworn to apply, for the student and professor and community whose lives are so largely defined by the law they have not made. But the meanings of the law do not just lie inertly out there in the world. They must be actively created and sustained, for the most part by the people of the law, who live in the great paradox of human life that implicates us all in the systems of belief and action we seek to criticize and change. Bob Cover's great gift was for seeing law not simply as a set of rules, nor as an instrument for social control, nor as the expression of policy, but as a system of meaning in its own right. In this he spoke to those of use who are drawn to the law as a life not merely of power but of significance.
White, James Boyd. "Thinking about Our Language." Yale L.J. 96 (1987): 1960-83.