The editors of the Nova Law Journal have invited me to comment upon the responses that were received to my preliminary foray into the applicability of constitutional norms to nuclear weapons. I am happy to do so. 1 At the outset, I should like to express my deep appreciation to those who took time from their busy schedules to write responses, as well as the editors of this Journal for making the symposium possible. It is, I believe, the first attempt by a legal periodical to tackle from a constitutional standpoint what by all odds is the overriding moral and political (and thus constitutional) question of the day.
Lawyers of whatever specialty have until quite recent times ignored the problems attendant to the manufacture, storage, deployment and possible—even probable—use of weapons that threaten the very fabric of civilization as we know it. Now, however, two groups of lawyers have been formed—one with Boston headquarters and the other centered in New York City; members of the American Bar Association, as well as other bar associations, are beginning to focus upon the growing peril. That is all to the good: lawyers, as Professor Levinson suggests, can play an important role in the developing dialogue. They exemplify in modern version what Samuel Johnson said long ago: “Depend upon it, Sir, when any man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” 2 For the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were all but obliterated in August, 1945, the minds of lawyers—some but far from all of them—are beginning to concentrate upon what Jonathan Schell has called “the fate of the earth.” 3
* Reprinted, with permission, from Nova Law Journal, Volume 7, Number 1 (1982).
1. Although mention will be made of several responses, this rejoinder is general in nature. It seeks to extend the argument, rather than to comment upon each of the responses in detail.
2. 6 J.BOSWELL, THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON 309 (W. Crocker ed. 1846) (1st ed. London 1791).
3. J.SCHELL, THE FATE OF THE EARTH (1982).