Most Recent Print Issue

Volume 73, Issue 4


Movement Law

by  Amna A. Akbar, Sameer M. Ashar & Jocelyn Simonson

In this Article we make the case for movement law, an approach to legal scholarship grounded in solidarity, accountability, and engagement with grassroots organizing and left social movements. In contrast to law and social movements—a field that studies the relationship between lawyers, legal process, and social change—movement law offers a methodology to scholars across substantive…



by  Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler & Daniel E. Walters

At the center of contemporary debates over public law lies administrative agencies’ discretion to impose rules. Yet for every one of these rules, there are also unrules nearby. Often overlooked and sometimes barely visible, unrules are the decisions that regulators make to lift or limit the scope of a regulatory obligation through, for instance, waivers,…


The Sovereign Shield

by  Kate Sablosky Elengold & Jonathan D. Glater

As the federal government has come to rely increasingly on private companies to perform government functions, more businesses are testing the power of the resulting contractual relationships to shield themselves from liability, regulation, and oversight. Such nongovernmental entities seek the benefit of what we call the federal government’s sovereign shield by exploiting three doctrines: preemption,…


Native Treaties and Conditional Rights
After Herrera

by  Katherine M. Cole

Due to the complex and often troubled history of relations between the United States and Native nations, special rules apply when courts interpret Native treaties. For example, when interpreting the scope of treaty rights, courts apply a unique set of canons of construction generally favoring the Native nations. Further, before courts will allow Congress to…

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Recent Online Essays

Medical Civil Rights as a Site of Activism

A Reply to Critics

Many continue to diagnose civil rights problems and their solutions using medical frames. Are these policymakers, backed by activists, wrong to do so? The answer, according to legal scholarship that has explicitly considered the question, seems to be yes. While the legal scholarship has emphasized the harms of using medical discourse, it has not explicitly considered its benefits across social movements—and there are several. Rather than suggest that these activists have miscalculated, this Reply seeks to understand why activists and policymakers have deployed medical frames. Further, recognizing that medical discourse and the rights—and burdens—it produces are malleable, this Reply seeks to explore ways in which to further its social justice possibilities.

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Legal Lessons from a Very Fast Problem: COVID-19

This Essay offers a look back on the initial phase of the COVID-19 catastrophe—a crisis that, at the time of this writing, is still expanding and deepening. We suggest three lessons: First, the free flow of information saves lives, an observation which sounds in constitutional free-speech rights, copyright law, and patent law. Second, politically accountable decision-making in the public health sphere has proven inapt in responding to the pandemic; this observation suggests a more prominent role in public health crises for independent administrative agencies and the judiciary. Third, pre-crisis regulations and rulemaking structures for approvals of medical products, and vaccines in particular, have not proven nimble enough in the face of the pandemic; this suggests an opportunity for congressional action to push agencies to move faster.

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Reweighing Medical Civil Rights

Craig Konnoth’s Article, using “medical civil rights” as an angle onto disability, captures the ostensible benefits of disability legal claiming. We partially agree with him on this, but we also believe that he does not fully account for the weight on the other side of the negative aspects of medical framing. This Response contextualizes the benefits and recognition granted to medicalized individuals by noting the drawbacks to medicalization. We conclude by proposing a new way forward for disability justice. 

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How Medicalization of Civil Rights Could Disappoint

Craig Konnoth’s article, Medicalization and the New Civil Rights, shows how medical framing and evidence of physically identifiable and measurable harms have been providing new pathways to vindicate civil rights harms. Longer-term, however, this Response wonders whether medicalization of civil rights might tell a more ambivalent narrative. First, medicalization could produce a sociological narrowing that could eventually limit how we think about justice. Second, and more speculatively, even the utilitarian benefits that medical framing is now producing might diminish as medicalization becomes a new situs for civil rights contests.

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Damnatio Memoriae and Black Lives Matter

This Essay defends the recent scrutiny of civic symbols, triggered by police brutality and killings, against the Trump Administration’s criticism that it constituted a frivolous exercise in cancel culture. It examines links between recent destruction of monuments and the age-old Roman legal procedure of damnatio memoriae to show that condemnation of memory may serve legitimate purposes, especially in rehabilitating public spaces to express society’s disapproval of past offensive actions.

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