Robert F. Cochran, Jr., the Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law and director of the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, has recently released a new book titled Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law (NYU Press; 2008; $25.00).
The idea for Faith and Law came to him about five years ago, when Pepperdine hosted a conference on viewing law through eyes of faith. As part of the conference, Cochran put together a 16-member panelâ€"each from a different religious traditionâ€"to discuss how their respective religions view law. Twelve of those same speakers became authors in Cochran's book. To discuss the book's evolution and the issues it raises, Cochran sat down with Professor Roger Alford and gave his insight on Faith and Law.
In total, Faith and Law includes essays by legal scholars from sixteen different religious traditions. The scholars contend that religious discourse has an important function in the making, practice, and adjudication of American law, not least because our laws rest upon a framework of religious values. The book includes faiths that have traditionally had an impact on American law, as well as new immigrant faiths that are likely to have a growing influence. Each contributor describes how his or her tradition views law and addresses one legal issue from that perspective, and topics include abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, immigrant rights, blasphemy, and free speech.
Praised for its relevancy of topic, the book has been described as "a truly remarkable collection of first rate essays by a variety of scholars, one more illuminating than the other," by Amitai Etzioni, founder of the communitarian movement. Ellen S. Pryor, professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, calls it "a tremendous addition to the literature bounded by the topics of ethics, religion, public policy, and law."
Professor Cochran is the founder of the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, and teaches Torts, Legal Ethics, Religion and Law, and Family Law. He was Rick J. Caruso Research Fellow from 1994 to 1995 and 1997 to 1998. He is the co-author of Lawyers, Clients, and Moral Responsibility; Cases and Materials on the Legal Profession; The Counselor-at-Law: A Collaborative Approach to Client Interviewing and Counseling; and Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought.