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Spring 2022

Rethinking Law

This issue explores the meaning of law beyond the Constitution and the courts—both as a tool of oppression and as a means of collective liberation.

Rethinking Law

A conservative Supreme Court is poised to roll back many progressive achievements, from affirmative action to abortion. In the forum that opens Rethinking Law, legal scholars Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath argue that the left must stop thinking of the law as separate from politics. Instead, we must recover a lost progressive vision, a “democracy of opportunity,” that sees the public—not the judiciary—as the ultimate arbiter of what the Constitution means.

Offering a nuanced picture of the relationship between law and politics, other essays in Rethinking Law further explore the meaning of law beyond the Constitution and the courts. They look to social movements, including civil rights and LGBTQ rights, for lessons about social transformation. While contributors debate the limits of law in a vastly unequal society, they agree that it remains an essential resource for building a more just world.

Editors’ Note

Deborah Chasman & Joshua Cohen



When we think, write, and act alongside movements, we help disrupt the everyday violence of law and imagine more radical transformation.

Amna A. Akbar, Jocelyn Simonson, Sameer Ashar

If we are to emerge from this era of crisis, we need legal thinking that operates on fundamentally different presumptions.

Jedediah Britton-Purdy, Amy Kapczynski, David Singh Grewal

It is time to stop talking about Roe as the touchstone for abortion rights and to start imagining what law and policy can do to facilitate affordable and available services.

Rachel Rebouché

King could not accomplish what philosophers and theologians also failed to—distinguishing moral from immoral law in a polarized society.

Randall L. Kennedy

In the fight for LGBTQ equality, the law is often the last thing to change.

Mary Bernstein

Critics say human rights discourse blunts social transformation. It doesn't have to.

Zachary Manfredi

The language of universal rights can be a powerful tool for advancing social justice.

Paul Gowder

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Can the nation-state serve social justice?

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò leads a forum with Thea Riofrancos, Mariame Kaba & Andrea Ritchie, Ishac Diwan & Bright Simons, and others. Plus Leila Farsakh on Palestinian statehood, Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix on a “solidarity state,” Joshua Craze on rule by militia, and much more. 

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Our new issue asks what a just state would look like and how to get there.

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