57 Varieties of Whiteness (Part 1)

Written by:  Angela Harris There were maybe twenty of them. One or two women beamed encouragingly as I stood up. I love the ones who support you: open faces that track your face, smiles and nods, puzzled looks when they get lost. But the bodies of the ones who drew my attention were rigid and tight. Arms folded over chests. Gazes studiously focused on nothing. I was there with my black face and my assigned readings to talk to this colleague’s criminal procedure class about race and space.

Dare Doctrine, Redux

Written by:  Jessica Silbey Back in 2006, the first time I (eh hem) tried my hand at blogging, I was all afire about various states’ legislatures passing laws to restrict access to abortion services. At the time, South Dakota had just passed a law making it a crime to perform an abortion for any purpose except to save the life of the mother, clearly a violation of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. I called it the “Dare Doctrine,” as in “we South Dakota legislators disagree with you Supreme Court of the United States and are calling you into a game of chicken. We know you have explicitly held otherwise, but we are right and Roe and Casey were wrong. We dare you to make us take it back.”

Discriminatory Arizona Law Measures Nation's Racial Sensibilities

Written by: Karla McKanders If Arizona’s passing the immigration law on Friday is a measure of our nation’s racial sensibilities, our country has a long way to go.  Our country has a long history of racial discrimination towards minority groups, including Latino immigrants. In the 1800s, Congress passed the Chinese exclusion laws barring persons of  Chinese descent from immigrating to the United States and implementing forced labor for those who violated the laws. California instigated the passing of discriminatory and racist exclusion laws. In the early twentieth century, states also passed alien land laws which barred ownership of property by non-citizens. These laws were targeted at Japanese immigrants who, as non-whites were barred from becoming citizens. In 1965, in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, the Immigration Act was… Continue »

A Failure of Capitalism?

Written by: andre cummings In 2008 testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the days following the failure of Lehman Brothers, former Federal Bank chair Alan Greenspan told Congress, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”  Law and economics icon Judge Richard Posner wrote in 2009 a book entitled “The Failure of Capitalism” that “we are learning from [the crisis] that we need a more active and intelligent government to keep our model of a capitalist economy from running off the rails.” How did the economy run off the rails in 2008?  New revelations have just surfaced that should add additional “shocked disbelief” to Greenspan’s admittedly flawed worldview. … Continue »

Immigration Reform on the Back Burner…

Written by:  Karla McKanders Shortly after health care reform passed, Republicans stated that there will be no cooperation with Democrats for the rest of the year.  Specifically, John McCain stated “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They [Democrats] have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.” In addition, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, stated that he was withdrawing support of an outline for joint immigration bill with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.  The joint bill proposed a pathway citizenship for undocumented immigrants by establishing biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; strengthening border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers; and implementing a tough but fair… Continue »

Contract and Structural Inequality

Written by:  Deborah Post Last week we learned that Jim Perdue,  Chairman of Perdue Foods Inc., spoke to Maryland legislators on behalf of the small farmers he claimed would be forced out of business if the environmental law clinic at University of Maryland Law School is allowed to sue Perdue and one of its growers.  I was familiar with Perdue’s relationship with small farmers.  Some years ago — in 1998, to be precise — I wrote a contracts exam using the pleadings filed in Monk v. Perdue Farms, Inc., 12 F. Supp.2d 508 (D.Md. 1998),  by plaintiff’s attorney, Roger L. Gregory, then partner in the firm of Wilder and Gregory, now judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Monk was a case about racial discrimination. Several black farmers alleged that they were not accorded… Continue »

New Financial Sector Regulation

Written by:  andre cummings The United States Senate will take up new financial sector regulation on Monday.  Momentum has been growing in recent weeks as it now appears that new regulation will receive bipartisan support.  The financial market crisis of 2008 has clarified the necessity that Congress better protect consumers from abusive Wall Street practices.  The Senate must concern itself with turning banking back into an industry that promotes wealth across the country rather than the pre-crisis trend of reckless pursuit of ill-gotten profits.  By establishing a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Congress can commit to protecting American communities and consumers rather than protecting Wall Street’s recklessness.

Legal Clinics Under Attack

Written by:  Steven Bender Within the last week SALT defended the Maryland law school environmental clinic from legislative attack seeking to condition release of public funds on disclosure of client names and other confidential information. SALT’s efforts are described at This weekend the New York Times detailed the current legislative and judicial onslaught against law clinics across the country.


Written by:  Jeff Pokorak The Carnegie report exhorts us to “put the client back into legal education.” I know many have done great work surfacing the biographies of clients and litigants in cases before our students.  From a fuller contextualization of the litigants Jesse Pierson and  Lodowick Post to the sad path of Ernesto Miranda’s life, there is a wealth of information available to help us reanimate our classes with the (ghosts) of the case clients. But what I want to address here is the casual way in which we forget to name or humanize in our efforts to diminish or aggrandize.  Not only the common use of the words “defendant” or “victim” in criminal courts….  But recent writings of others made me wonder: Do slaves or former slaves actually have… Continue »

The Why, Who, and the How of the New SALT Blog

Written by: Angela Onwuachi-Willig A  few years ago, at a retreat where we set certain short and long term goals, the SALT Board agreed that SALT would have a blog.  None of us knew much about blogs at that time, but we were persuaded that alternative methods of reaching the public to provide information about issues of social justice and human rights should be an integral part of our agenda as activist progressives. There are many opportunities for SALT members to speak out. We have our classrooms, and SALT, through its teaching conferences, has advocated for teaching that is activist, inclusive, and self conscious in focusing attention on issues of social justice. In our institutions, we can sponsor teach-ins, conferences, and symposia.  As legal scholars, we can write and publish… Continue »