Lobel, Jules 1951-

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Lobel, Jules 1951-


Born September 8, 1951, in New York, NY; son of Paul and Lena Lobel; married Barbara M. Wolvovitz, September 16, 1984; children: Michael Ari Wolvovitz. Education: New York University, B.A., 1972; Rutgers University, J.D., 1978.


Office—University of Pittsburgh, School of Law, 3900 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260. E-mail—[email protected]


Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman (law firm), New York, NY, associate, 1978-1983; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, assistant professor, 1983-86, associate professor, 1986-89, professor of law, 1989—. President, South Brooklyn Area Policy Board, l979-1980; consultant to Nicaragua National Assembly, Managua, l985; member, Pittsburgh-San Isidro Sister City Inc., l987-88; member of board of directors, Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, l986, and Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY, l988.


American Society of International Law, World Federalists, Latin American Studies Association, National Lawyers Guild.


Center for Latin American Studies grants, l983, 1985.


(Editor) Civil Rights Handbook, 1985.

(Editor) Alternative Views of the Constitution, 1988.

(Editor) A Less Than Perfect Union: Alternative Perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

(With David Cole) Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, New Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to professional journals, including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and Virginia Law Review.


Jules Lobel is a law professor who specializes in international law, constitutional law, civil rights, and comparative law. As a member of the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights in the 1980s and 1990s, he litigated issues regarding the application of international law in the U.S. courts. Also in the late 1980s, he advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its first democratic constitution. He has also edited books on civil rights and constitutional law, including A Less Than Perfect Union: Alternative Perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, a collection of essays.

In his Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America, Lobel examines what were once believed to be hopeless political causes and various litigations associated with them that eventually led to substantial victories. Covering antebellum litigation against slavery, women's suffrage litigation after the Civil War, and the author's own participation in efforts to check unilateral presidential war powers, Lobel describes how all of these cases were, by most objective standards, impossible to win in court.

In an interview with Amy Goodman transcribed on the Democracy Now! Web site, Lobel pointed to the abolitionist court cases as a prime example of his thesis that pursuing litigation even in the face of near-certain defeat is justified by its contribution to resistance against injustice and oppression. The author noted: "The first major campaign was the abolitionists who challenged the fugitive slave laws in court as being unconstitutional and lost over and over again. Yet, in doing so, they helped mobilize Northern opinion against these laws and against the Northern cooperation with slavery and eventually a fellow like Salmon Chase, who was one of the great lawyers who represented these fugitive slaves, his briefs and his arguments became the bedrock platform of the Republican party which was successful politically. So that was one lost case that led to political success."

Calling Success without Victory "compelling," a Publishers Weekly contributor went on to write that the author deems a case "successful if it arises from and gives expression to a valid principle and if it promotes a culture of rights." Writing in Trial, Emily J. Sack commented: "Lobel provides a lively account of several important but relatively unknown cases. The stories are fascinating and will engage litigators who love the details of brief-writing, the tension of last-minute deadlines, the strategies for oral argument, and the drama of judicial decision-making."

Lobel collaborated with fellow law professor David Cole to write Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror. The authors reveal a U.S. government, headed by President George W. Bush, that makes predictions about terrorist attacks to cut corners on fundamental issues concerning the U.S. Constitution and rules of law. Pointing to the Bush administration's pursuit of war against Iraq contrary to the wishes of the United Nations Security Council, subsequent torturing of prisoners, and suspects who disappear into CIA prisons, the authors argue that such actions have made the U.S. more susceptible to future terrorist attacks as opposed to making the country safer, as the administration has claimed. However, the authors also point out that the problem did not originate with the Bush administration; it has been an issue with several presidential administrations. The authors, both experts in constitutional law, argue that it is the rule of law that will make the U.S. safer from terrorist attacks in the long run.

Cody Corliss, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette commented that the authors "argue eloquently and forcefully that preventive war makes flawed foreign policy." In a review in the Library Journal, a contributor wrote that the authors "provide new and broader perspectives on U.S. attempts to counter terrorism, and … develop systematic analysis to underscore flaws to real and emergent terrorist threats."



American Historical Review, December, 2004, Austin Sarat, review of Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America, p. 1604.

Booklist, December 1, 2003, Vernon Ford, review of Success without Victory, p. 632.

Chronicle of Higher Education, March 26, 2004, Bethany Broida, "The Meaning of Success and Failure in an American Context," interview with Jules Lobel.

Columbia Law Review, November, 1988, G. HR. Wolohojian, review of A Less Than Perfect Union: Alternative Perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, p. 1575.

Harvard Law Review, February, 1988, review of A Less Than Perfect Union, p. 902.

Law and Politics Book Review, October, 2004, Charles R. Epp, review of Success without Victory.

Law and Social Inquiry, spring, 1988, review of A Less Than Perfect Union, p. 440.

Library Journal, September 1, 2007, "The Post 9/11 World, Six Years On," includes review of Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, p. 148.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 6, 2008, Cody Corliss, review of Less Safe, Less Free.

Publishers Weekly, November 24, 2003, review of Success without Victory, p. 52.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2007, review of Less Safe, Less Free.

Tikkun, January-February, 2008, review of Less Safe, Less Free, p. 81.

Trial, May, 2004, Emily J. Sack, review of Success without Victory, p. 88.


Democracy Now!,http://www.democracynow.org/ (December 11, 2003), Amy Goodman, review of Success without Victory and interview with Jules Lobel.

University of Pittsburgh School of Law,http://www.law.pitt.edu/ (February 18, 2008), faculty profile of Jules Lobel.