The Dysgenic State: Environmental Injustice and Disability-Selective Abortion Bans

Disability-selective abortion bans are laws that prohibit individuals from terminating a pregnancy because the fetus has been diagnosed with a health impairment. Many environmental toxins—to which low-income people and people of color disproportionately are exposed—are known to cause impairments in fetuses. When the fact of environmental injustice is read together with disability-selective abortion bans, we see that in one moment, the state fails to protect its citizens from toxins that impair fetal health, while in another moment, that same government compels its citizens to give birth to health-impaired fetuses. This Article identifies these two moments as the dysgenic state. Whereas the eugenic state of the early twentieth century sought to remove impairments from the population, the dysgenic state of the early twenty-first century seems committed to producing an impaired citizenry.

A Proposed Future for the Progressive Realization of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in California

As the country’s most populous state and the world’s fifth largest economy, California has often been characterized as a “nation-state,” historically independent in its governing priorities. Yet even as the state’s political identity coalesces in favor of recognizing greater social welfare provisions for its inhabitants, formal enactment in policy often falls short. This hesitancy persists […]

“With All the Majesty of the Law”: Systemic Racism, Punitive Sentiment, and Equal Protection

United States criminal justice policies have played a central role in the subjugation of persons of color. Under slavery, criminal law explicitly provided a means to ensure White dominion over Blacks and require Black submission to White authority. During Reconstruction, anticrime policies served to maintain White supremacy and re-enslave Blacks, both through explicit discrimination and […]

Hate Crimes, Terrorism, and the Framing of White Supremacist Violence

Even before the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, a rising chorus of policymakers and pundits had called for treating White supremacist violence as “terrorism.” After multiple mass shootings motivated by White supremacist ideology, commentators argued that the “hate crime” label failed to convey the political nature of the violence or assign it […]

Addressing the United States Climate Crisis and Climate Displacement: A Transition from the “Otherization” of Climate Change to a Focus on Domestic Solutions

In the United States, climate change discourse often focuses on international communities, island nations, and poor global citizens. While the focus on international communities is important, it places the impact of climate change in remote and distant locations. This Note argues that associating climate change with people outside the United States creates an “otherization” of climate change and evades the responsibility to look internally and address domestic climate impact. Addressing climate change is particularly important given that the effects of climate change in the United States often disproportionately harm poor, rural, and immigrant communities, as well as communities of color.

“Discriminalization”: Sexuality, Human Rights, and the Carceral Turn in Antidiscrimination Law

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights gain traction around the globe, many states have turned toward carceral punishment as a means of sanctioning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The carceral turn has been scrutinized in racial justice and feminist literature, but few queer scholars have grappled with the growing use […]

Dosing Discrimination: Regulating PDMP Risk Scores

Prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) predictive surveillance platforms were designed for—and funded by—law enforcement agencies. PDMPs use proprietary algorithms to determine a patient’s risk for prescription drug misuse, diversion, and overdose. The proxies that PDMPs utilize to calculate patient risk scores likely produce artificially inflated scores for marginalized patients, including women and racial minorities with complex, pain-related conditions; poor, uninsured, under-insured, and rural individuals; and patients with co-morbid disabilities or diseases, including substance use disorder and mental health conditions.

Viral Injustice

The COVID-19 pandemic blighted all aspects of American life, but people in jails, prisons, and other detention sites experienced singular harm and neglect. Housing vulnerable detainee populations with elevated medical needs, these facilities were ticking time bombs. They were overcrowded, underfunded, unsanitary, insufficiently ventilated, and failed to meet even minimum health-and-safety standards. Every unit of national and sub-national government failed to prevent detainee communities from becoming pandemic epicenters, and judges were no exception.

Courts and the Abolition Movement

This Article theorizes and reimagines the place of courts in the contemporary struggle for the abolition of racialized punitive systems of legal control and exploitation. In the spring and summer of 2020, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black and Indigenous people sparked continuous protests against racist police violence and other forms of oppression. Meanwhile, abolitionist organizers and scholars have long critiqued the prison-industrial complex, or the constellation of corporations, media entities, governmental actors, and racist and capitalist ideologies that have driven mass incarceration. But between the police and the prison cell sits the criminal court. Criminal courts are the legal pathway from an arrest to a prison sentence, with myriad systems of control in between, including ones branded as “off-ramps.” We cannot understand the present crisis without understanding how the criminal courts not only function to legitimate police and funnel people into carceral spaces but also contribute their own unique forms of violence, social control, and exploitation. These mechanisms reveal the machinations of mass criminalization and the injustices operating between the police encounter and the prison cell. Our central argument is that courts—with a focus here on criminal trial courts and the group of actors within them—function as an unjust social institution. We should therefore work toward abolishing criminal courts and replacing them with other institutions that do not inherently legitimate police, rely on jails and prisons, or operate as tools of racial and economic oppression.

Opportunity Zones, 1031 Exchanges, and Universal Housing Vouchers

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contained former President Trump’s signature economic development initiative: the Opportunity Zone program. Allowing a deferral of capital gains tax for certain qualifying investments in low-income areas, the Opportunity Zone program aims to spur economic development by steering capital into economically distressed neighborhoods. The program is the latest iteration of an overly simplistic market-based approach to community development—an approach that transcends political party—based on a flawed yet enduring notion that mere proximity of capital will solve deeply entrenched issues of poverty and racial inequity. In reality, the legacy of Opportunity Zones is likely to be one of accelerated neighborhood gentrification left in the wake of wealthy taxpayer windfalls.