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Weekly Roundup: October 21, 2022


At the Blog

On Monday, Jules Gill-Peterson continued our symposium on Marta Russell, by offering a materialist analysis of the escalating wave of anti-trans legislation. As she writes, “The liberal faith in a legalistic, civil rights solution to anti-trans political violence misses the basic fact that the economic is written everywhere into transphobic politics. Gender affirming health care is not only moralized through a fantasy of experimental mutilation, but is also styled as prohibitively expensive, an inappropriate expenditure of taxpayer dollars in an era of permanent austerity. Rather than assuming transphobia as some transhistorical, free-floating animus that waits in the wings of history, there is every reason to see anti-trans political violence and the establishment of the cisgender state as integral to neoliberal American statecraft.”

On Tuesday, we concluded the symposium with a conversation between Liat Ben-Moshe and Dean Spade about the connections between Marta Russell’s work and their own, how Russell’s work fits within Critical Disability and Legal Studies, and what her critiques have to offer current movements for liberation and economic justice. One reason that Russell was so effective at revealing the limitations of civil rights laws, Spade suggests, is that her work centered poverty: “Most conversations about making people ‘equal’ under law conveniently ignore poverty, because poverty can’t be illegal under capitalism. As soon as people talk about poverty with rigor, civil rights solutions fall apart. Civil rights laws at best promise (though they don’t even deliver this) a chance to ‘compete’ with others for exploitative jobs, and the certainty that some people will be left without such chances to have wealth extracted from them through a wage labor system.”

And on Thursday, Zohra Ahmed examined the right to counsel in a neoliberal age. Over the past forty years, the Supreme Court has increasingly recognized the rights of defendants in criminal proceedings to exert autonomy over their own representation, including dispensing with counsel. This may seem like an unfettered gain for defendants, yet, as Ahmed argues, the value of such autonomy depends on background circumstances that the Court refuses to address. As she writes, “No one disputes that attorneys should collaborate with their clients to understand their concerns and aspirations. But encoding defendant choice into constitutional rules without challenging the underlying conditions that limit and structure such choices will likely deepen the very inequalities that criminal law already exacerbates.”

In LPE Land

On Oct. 28, the LPE Project and APPEAL will be holding next informal mentoring session for law students and graduate students interested in teaching at a law school. Featuring Professors Lua Kamál Yuille and Luke Herrine.

Next week (Oct. 25-28), the African Economic and Monetary Sovereignty Initiative will be holding a conference on “Facing the Socio-Ecological Crisis: Delinking and the Question of Global Reparations.” Online attendance only requires zoom registration.