David Sive ’48
March 12, 2014
David Sive ’48, who was known as the father of modern environmental law, argued landmark cases, led environmental advocacy groups, and taught environmental law at Columbia Law School. He passed away on March 12, 2014, at the age of 91.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1922, Sive was a World War II veteran and a Purple Heart recipient. After earning his J.D. in 1948, he joined Seligson, Morris & Neuberger. In 1962, Sive co-founded the leading environmental law firm known today as Sive, Paget & Riesel.
In the 1960s, Sive was a member of the legal team that blocked construction of a power plant at Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River. Spurred by his love of the wilderness, Sive then worked on a landmark case that stopped construction of the proposed Hudson River Expressway. He also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court against a 1971 nuclear test explosion in Alaska. That case helped lead the U.S. to cease conducting such tests.
As an adjunct faculty member at Columbia Law School, an original member of its Environmental Advisory Committee, and an honorary director of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, Sive contributed greatly to the Law School’s leadership in the field of environmental law. A committed environmental activist and former chairman of the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club, he helped found the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Law Institute, and other notable environmental groups.
Sive is survived by his wife, Mary Robinson Sive; his sons Alfred, Walter, and Theodore; his daughters Rebecca and Helen; and six grandchildren.