• Hubert “Rap" Brown (left), who is today Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (right)

    Rap Brown Law today

    The law was popularly named for African-American leader H. “Rap” Brown; its formal title was “The Civil Obedience Act of 1968.”

  • Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accords

    We won’t always have Paris

    Donald Trump today sentenced Planet Earth to death. Whether he has the power actually to have that sentence carried out is open to serious question.

  • Neil Gorsuch & Donald Trump

    Inconsistency, Illegality, and Judge Gorsuch

    Donald Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate should not confirm Judge Gorsuch. This post gives one cardinal reason for rejecting the nomination.

  • Bertrand de Jouvenel

    Mythologies, Guns, Racism and the Death Penalty

    This past week, I have read two judicial decisions that – once again – remind me how powerful mythologies are deployed to justify conduct that harms and mutilates human beings.  However, in both cases, the majority of judges penetrate the mythology and see the case in human terms.  The cases can therefore teach all of […]

  • Activists gather at Portland International Airport to protest against President Donald Trump's executive action travel ban in Portland (REUTERS/Steve Dipaola)

    The Muslim Ban and Judicial Power

    Do federal courts have the legitimate power to block Presidential orders concerning immigration and border control? Yes. Article 3 of the constitution gives them that power. In the current controversy, we should remind ourselves of this fragile and endangered separation of powers, on which we now rely as a bulwark against racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

  • Taking Action: Understanding History, Reaching Out

    Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, repression, and the other evils that have been spotlighted by the recent election did not arise full-blown from the Trump campaign.  They all trace deep roots in American society; they are brought now to the surface by demagogy. The point of my last several posts has been that we could see […]

  • How Employers Limit Worker Rights, Using the Power of Government and Market Forces

    The escalating attack on worker rights in the United States has taken several forms in recent years.  In some American states, right-wing politicians have passed laws denying public employees such as teachers, janitors, police, and firefighters the right to organize into unions and bargain collectively.  Some of these laws strip recognition and power from existing […]

  • Job Loss, the Clintons, NAFTA, and a New Progressive Labor Rights Agenda

    Today’s post discusses the way that neoliberal policies embraced by the Democratic Party resulted in job loss in key states.  Bear with me: there are facts and figures here that make the case.  Tomorrow, I will continue to discuss these issues in the context of “domestic” job displacement.  The third post will discuss a progressive […]

  • The Lawyers’ Job Now — History and Strategy

    Donald Trump and his allies have announced their agenda.  It includes torture, denial of basic human rights, military action that violates the laws of war, racial injustice, misogyny, and xenophobia.  What role and responsibility do we have?  I am a lawyer, teacher, and writer.  So I speak to those in my profession and those preparing […]

  • The Letelier-Moffitt Assassination: New Evidence

    The Guardian reports that Chilean President Augusto Pinochet personally ordered the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, in Washington, D.C. in September 1976. So, you may say, what’s new?  After all, my partner Sam Buffone and I sued Chile for these murders and won a judgment.  At the trial, our expert witness said that […]

  • Resisting Wholesale Electronic Invasion of the Fourth Amendment

    National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Foundation for Criminal Justice dinner, Denver, Colorado, July 24, 2015 A few months ago, I spoke to a group of lawyers in Los Angeles.  I talked about legal ethics.  I mentioned Henry Drinker, author of ABA ethical rules, author of a book that was the basis for the […]

  • Private Prisons Are Unconstitutional

    A new report by In the Public Interest, available at www.inthepublicinterest.org/article/criminal-how-lockup-quotas-and-low-crime-taxes-guarantee-profits-private-prison-corporations, documents the increased use of private prisons to house the large and growing population of incarcerated Americans.  We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, five to seven times that of comparable countries.  See my article “Lawyers, Jails, and the Law’s Fake Bargains,” […]

  • Universal Rights and Wrongs

    The title of a talk should arouse curiosity and even skepticism. The title must give the speaker enough leeway to change the content at will. After all, I chose this title with only a vague idea of what I might actually say. Oh, I knew then and know now the subjects I will discuss. I have studied, written and practiced about them for more than forty years

  • Remembering Clint Jencks (March 1, 1918 – December 15, 2005)

    I met Clint Jencks in about 1959 when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley.  He was getting his Ph.D. and was the teaching assistant in economics for our section.  I knew of his history and was honored to get to know him.  We spent many hours together talking about labor history and his own life.  […]

  • Terrorism and Human Rights

    The idea of terror comes to our tradition in images of fear. As the Psalmist wrote: