Category Archives: Articles

Article: “Charting School Discipline”

Article: Susan DeJarnatt, et. al., “Charting School Discipline,” The Urban Lawyer (forthcoming).

Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students.

We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.

We hope that this work will spur future research on implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.


Article: “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs”

New Article: Jennifer J. Lee, “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs,” 28 Stan.L.& Pol’y Rev. (forthcoming).

With immigration reform stalled once again by United States v. Texas, many turn to the expansion of guest worker programs as a solution to our immigration woes. Low-wage foreign guest workers can fill “bad jobs” that no U.S. workers want. This article shows that guest worker programs are harmful to all low-wage workers by challenging this commonly accepted narrative and exploring how such programs create a cycle that fuels both U.S. worker shortages and the necessity for guest workers.

Scholars have amply criticized guest worker programs because they impair the rights of guest workers and contravene liberal egalitarian principles of social membership. These criticisms about how foreign workers are treated on U.S. soil, however, have been insufficient to tip the balance against these programs. What is missing from this debate is an attempt to understand why guest worker programs persist despite their many flaws. The legal framework broadly delegates power to employers to create U.S. worker shortages and the alternative of the highly productive and compliant guest worker. Cultural narratives operate to mask this reality by tying these phenomena to cultural explanations about low-wage workers. Together they create a climate that is favorable to guest worker programs.

This article’s close examination of these problems exposes why guest worker programs should not be a ready solution for immigration reform. It suggests a new approach to challenging such programs by broadening the lens to consider the plight of the U.S. worker. The U.S. worker can help shift the legal and social norms surrounding such programs by revealing how the fate of all low-wage workers is interconnected by government-enabled degradation of low-wage jobs. This approach suggests new advocacy strategies to eliminate guest worker programs in their current format in order to protect the dignity of all low-wage workers.

Article: “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization”

Article: Michael B. Adamson, “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization,” 65 Duke L.J. 1439 (2016).

Some commentators have lamented that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is undertheorized—that its purpose is unclear—and that its design is therefore suboptimal. This Note explores the credit’s path-dependent past, which has resulted in a present-day EITC that manifests a diverse, uncoordinated assortment of policy purposes. Although the EITC’s ambiguity of purpose may yield policy inefficiencies, this Note argues that it also produces significant political benefits that would-be reformers who value the EITC’s many societal benefits should take into account before they attempt to enact any major overhaul.

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

Making the Dream Real
Richard R. Buery, Jr.
Insuring Civil Justice for All: Meeting the Challenges of Poverty

Honorable Fern Fisher

Income Inequality Hits Home

Steven W. Bender

Shoe Stories: Civil Rights and the Inequality of Place

Elise C. Boddie

The Price of Equal Justice: How Establishing a Right to Counsel for
People Who Face Losing Their Homes Helps Tackle Economic Inequality

Andrew Scherer

Criminal Records in the Post-“Great Society”

Michael Pinard

Shackles Beyond the Sentence: How Legal Financial Obligations Create a Permanent Underclass


Their Debt to Society

Erika L. Wood

The Overincarceration of America’s Poor: The Return of Debtor’s Prison

Reginald T. Shuford

Crime and Incarceration: A Future Fraught with Uncertainty

Ronald F. Day

Inequality and the Texas Photo ID Law

J. Gerald Hebert

Reproductive Rights and Women’s Economic Security:
Pieces of the Same Puzzle

Janet Crepps and Kelly Baden

Relative Care Within a Public Health Paradigm

Kele M. Stewart

Changing the School to Prison Pipeline:
Integrating Trauma Informed Care in the New York City School System

Ellen Yaroshefsky and Anna Shwedel

Ending Child Poverty in New York

Melanie Hartzog and Patti Banghart

Building a City of Equal Opportunity

Jennifer Jones Austin

Remarks: The New York City Human Resources Administration’s Role in
Fighting Poverty and Income Inequality and Preventing Homelessness

Steven Banks

New Article: “Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise”

New Article: Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter & Alyx Mark, Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise, 93 Denv. U. L. Rev. 469 (2016).  Abstract below:

This empirical study analyzes the experience of the parties described above, specifically the power, representation, and strategic expertise they bring to a dispute. Our analysis of these factors clarifies how representation may be a solution to the access to justice crisis. We find that a representative helps most parties most of the time. We also find that the other party’s representation and the representative’s strategic expertise are significant factors for understanding representation for civil litigants.

This study analyzes a database of 1,700 unemployment insurance appeals in the District of Columbia over a two-year period, the broadest and deepest collection of data about representation in recent years. The analysis shows wide disparity in representation, with employers (the more powerful party to a dispute or the quintessential “haves”) represented twice as often as claimants (the less powerful party or the “have nots”), as well as a notable difference in parties’ use of procedures in hearings. Using difference-in-proportions tests, this Article examines the interaction of party power and representation and finds that represented parties have better case outcomes than unrepresented parties, though employers see less benefit from legal representation than claimants. In addition, the Article confirms the intuitive result that represented parties are more likely to use procedures than unrepresented parties. Yet, surprisingly, the Article finds that represented claimants who use certain evidentiary procedures have worse case outcomes than represented claimants who do not use those same procedures.

We recommend that any policy solution to the country’s civil litigation crisis, whether it is a right to civil counsel, unbundled legal services, lay advocacy, or pro se court reform, must account for these factors. To achieve this goal, we call for a deeper understanding of representation in context.

Article: “Is Tax Increment Financing Racist? The Racially Disparate Impact in Chicago’s TIF Spending”

Article: Jared F. Knight, “Is Tax Increment Financing Racist? The Racially Disparate Impact in Chicago’s TIF Spending,” 101 Iowa L. Rev. 1681 (2016).

Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) is a financing tool used by cities large and small across the country. Chicago, whose history includes several instances of de jure and de facto racial discrimination, is an especially prolific TIF user. This Note examines TIF distribution in each of Chicago’s 50 wards. Both a regression analysis and full population data show that White wards receive substantially greater TIF allocations than Black and Hispanic wards. To solve this disparity, this Note proposes amending the Illinois TIF statute to narrow the circumstances in which TIF is available. This Note further proposes changing Chicago’s TIF allocation process to restrict TIF dollars to wards experiencing extreme poverty and wards with little racial disparity, concluding that the latter is the best and fastest short-term option to correct the imbalance.


Article: “Racial and Gender Justice in the Child Welfare and Child Support Systems”

Article: Margaret F. Brinig, “Racial and Gender Justice in the Child Welfare and Child Support Systems,” 35 Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice (forthcoming).

While divorcing couples in the United States have been studied for many years, separating unmarried couples and their children have proven more difficult to analyze. Recently there have been successful longitudinal ethnographic and survey-based studies. This piece uses documents from a single Indiana county’s unified family court (called the Probate Court) to trace the effects of race and gender on unmarried families, beginning with a sample of 386 children for whom paternity petitions were brought in four months of 2008. It confirms prior theoretical work on racial differences in noncustodial parenting and poses new questions about how incarceration and gender affect low income families.


Article: Milan Markovic, “Lawyers and the Secret Welfare State,” 84 Fordham L. Rev. 1845 (2016).

Lawyers play an outsized role in the distribution of public benefits in the United States. This article suggests that, in assisting clients to circumvent stringent eligibility requirements for programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Medicaid, attorneys have created a secret welfare state that favors comparatively well-off Americans at the expense of the truly needy. Lawyers’ handling of evidence of non-disability in SSDI proceedings and participation in Medicaid planning is used to illustrate the argument.

Article: “(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University”

Anthony Abraham Jack, “(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University,” Sociology of Education, Nov. 15, 2015.

How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split. The privileged poor—lower-income undergraduates who attended boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—enter college primed to engage professors and are proactive in doing so. By contrast, the doubly disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who remained tied to their home communities and attended local, typically distressed high schools—are more resistant to engaging authority figures in college and tend to withdraw from them. Through documenting the heterogeneity among lower-income undergraduates, I show how static understandings of individuals’ cultural endowments derived solely from family background homogenize the experiences of lower-income undergraduates. In so doing, I shed new light on the cultural underpinnings of education processes in higher education and extend previous analyses of how informal university practices exacerbate class differences among undergraduates.

Article: “Zoning Barriers to Manufactured Housing”

Article: Daniel R. Mandelker, “Zoning Barriers to Manufactured Housing,” 43 The Urban Lawyer 233 (2016).

Manufactured housing is a major affordable housing resource for millions of people. Restrictive zoning barriers limit its availability, even though studies have discredited myths, such as objections to its safety and quality. A national statute, the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, authorizes building code standards that address all aspects of safety, durability and quality, and that preempt state and local codes that deal with this problem. The Act does not preempt restrictive zoning, and Congress should amend the law to cover zoning restrictions. Judicial control of zoning barriers to manufactured housing is unsatisfactory and requires statutory change. Courts accept unequal treatment that applies restrictive zoning only to manufactured housing, though some statutes prohibit discrimination. The cases uphold exclusions from residential districts if manufactured housing is allowed elsewhere. Some statutes prohibit exclusion by requiring manufactured housing as a permitted use in all residential districts, or allow a community to decide what residential districts must accept manufactured housing. Courts uphold aesthetic standards, such as roofing and siding requirements, and some statutes authorize them, though limitations are needed to protect manufactured housing from exclusionary treatment. Communities often require approval of manufactured housing as a conditional use, and approval as a conditional use is often denied. Courts have upheld conditional use denials, and statutory protective standards are needed that will prevent abuse of the conditional use requirement.