Joe Sax made his ideas matter. He had consequential ideas that shaped an entire field—in his case, environmental law—both in theory and in practice. His scholarship was first rate and has enduring significance in academia, as evidenced by the fact that two of his law review articles are among the 100 most frequently cited articles of all time. Others are more competent to review the importance of his scholarship; my experience in environmental advocacy is more pertinent to evaluating his impact on environmental policymaking. Here, his ideas have had a greater impact than any other legal academic. As the New York Times observed in the opening sentence of its obituary for Professor Sax, he “helped shape environmental law in the United States and fueled the environmental movement.” As environmental law historian Richard Lazarus put it, Sax “provided much of the strategic blueprint followed by the environmental public interest groups,” which is still followed more than fifty years after he began his career at the University of Colorado Law School in 1962. How did a self-effacing, erudite, bookish professor come to have such an impact?
Mark Van Putten,
Making Ideas Matter: Remembering Joe Sax,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol4/iss1/5