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Weekly Roundup: October 2, 2020


Some exciting developments in LPE land amidst the widening gyre!

LPE beyond the blog

The LPE Project has a new Deputy Director, the one and only Raúl Carrillo! You may know Raúl from his posts here on the blog on the relationship between public and private money creation and power. More details on him and his new position to come soon.

Also, LPE Project has teamed up with ACS to put together a multi-part public course on LPE basics. The first few events have been announced, with more to come. Check it out.

On the blog…

we posted the second and final round of posts for our Transforming a Broken System symposium on the criminal legal system.

Nathan Fennell argued for a right to replacement counsel for criminal defendants.

Deborah Weissman argued for the need to incorporate a rethinking of gendered violence into the decarceratory/abolitionist agenda.

Elsewhere on the internet

Luke Herrine

This week I chanced upon two great explanations of the shortcomings of methodological individualist conceptualizations of race (well, not totally chanced upon–this will play a role in upcoming work with our very own Deputy Director!). At INET, Ingrid Kvangraven and Surhbi Kesar explore why mainstream economics is so terrible at making sense of racial inequality–and other structural phenomena–and connect it to the unbearable whiteness of the profession. At Phenomenal World, Lily Hu has a masterful explanation of why attempts to isolate the “direct effects” of race through various statistical methods focused on “causal mechanisms” relies on deeply flawed assumptions about both the nature of causation and of racial structures.

At Vox, Ryan Doerfler explains the basic arguments that he and Sam Moyn have laid out in a forthcoming article in California Law Review on structural reforms to the Supreme Court.

I also chanced upon this fascinating series in the Nation from several years ago on pyramid schemes–ahem, I mean multi-level marketing–and their relationship to conservative power building by the one-and-only Rick Perlstein. Perlstein also has a new book out on the political shifts that brought us Reagan and his neoliberal coalition, in case you haven’t heard. And I didn’t like just because it has the story of the business assault on the FTC as its central narrative of the “boardroom Jacobins”…

Tariq El-Gabalawy

As protests continue to push for accountability after the disappointing grand jury announcement in the Breonna Taylor case, we are finding out the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron chose not to present homicide charges. This admission comes after one juror sought to compel the release of the grand jury transcripts, claiming Daniel Cameron sought to use the private proceedings as a way to skirt accountability. To that end, I read this piece that describes how police and prosecutors handled the Breonna Taylor case as well as their general playbook for avoiding accountability for state acts of violence.    

So a lot of other things happened, and here is my rapid fire list of things I have been reading: (1) Governor Desantis proposed legislation aimed at stifling the First Amendment rights of anti-police protesters through the use of criminal law; (2) A new report revealed police in CA enforced thousands of infractions against black, latinz, and the unhoused for sitting, sleeping, and standing; (3) I appreciated these two pieces about how to properly frame conversations about police reform and this feature of Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s prison abolition work; (4) Almost lost my lunch reading this terrifying piece on how the LAPD has been using a highly secretive data analytics tool created by a company called Palantir to maintain an unconscionably broad database; (5) A federal judge put the kibosh on Trump and Barr’s Law enforcement commission for failing to follow federal law and for overt bias; and (6) The 5th Circuit issued an opinion saying trial penalties are unconstitutional, but how much this actually accomplishes is questionable as they still ruled against the defendant and seemingly only cover sentencing and not plea bargaining.

Finally following Trump’s rallying cry to white supremacist, these two pieces caught my eye on the FBI’s intelligence reports on the threat of white supremacist violence and internal documents detailing the infiltration of white supremacist groups in local law enforcement. However these efforts by the FBI are, like almost everything in this administration, contradicted by internal DHS documents directing federal law enforcement to make sympathetic statements regarding Kyle Rittenhouse.

Caroline Parker

Yesterday a group of my YLS classmates published a really incredible report examining the role of elite law firms exacerbating the climate crisis. In it, they score each of the Vault 100 firms based on their lobbying, litigation, and transactional work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. The report’s methodology is incredibly sharp, thoughtful and transparent. But I was most struck by its more general narrative “The Role of Law Firms in the Climate Crisis.” Contra right-to-counsel handwaving, the report draws straight lines between power, money, law, and the elite institutions that connect them.

I know you, readers of the blog, are hungry to hear more from the student organizers themselves… In the meantime, you can follow Law Students for Climate Accountability (@ls4ca) to see all their badass retweets. 
(Also on the theme of climate candor) I have been waiting to see some journalistic level setting about “regenerative agriculture” and here it is. During the last year, a hopeful message about the impact of agriculture on climate change has morphed into a bucolic fantasy. This narrative isn’t just wishful thinking, it is easily co-opted by large corporate producers seeking to greenwash their business and profit off of expanded carbon markets. If you’re looking for a spook, check out the list of corporate and organizational endorsements on this recent bipartisan bill. McDonalds, Cargill, and World Wildlife Fund all on one page!