Judge Aaron Jaffe: Reforming Illinois
by Charles M. Barber and Aaron Jaffe

"I do not believe that we are helpless. We can turn things around. In order to do so, the American people must counter malaise with an open and honest national conversation about issues that confront us today. Then we must unite and act."

So writes Charles Barber in quoting Judge Aaron Jaffe’s eloquence in expressing his fervid belief in elevating sociopolitical, as well as judicial discourse, to a level of critical mass and validation of progressive change that benefits not just the privileged—but everyone in America. Barber’s oral history of Jaffe’s progressive record in Illinois politics from the 1940s to the present is forthright, passionate, and revealing. This book is copiously laden with footnotes, and a lengthy bibliography, that serve to effectively illustrate the extent of scholarly research conducted to justify Barber’s tome of Jaffe.

The author relentlessly pursues every nook and cranny of Jaffe’s stellar career amidst the often volatile intersection of politics and law. Barber makes it a point that Jaffe compiled an impressive judicial record in Illinois, while also avoiding scandalous incidents, such as becoming embroiled in corruption, and/or sexual indiscretions. Among other accomplishments, Jaffe is credited with effecting change in Illinois rape laws. According to author Barber, Jaffe understood how to persuade “political culture in that state on the subject of rape to see it less as a matter of mere lust, to one of criminal sexual assault through his Rape Study Committee and successful legislation.” Barber lauds Jaffe’s innate and seemingly uncanny ability to bring divergent factions together, to the proverbial table, to transcend and dramatically transform the tumultuous political landscape of Illinois into a seemingly egalitarian society that is still evolving to this day.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home