Category Archives: deserving/undeserving

New Article: “The Influence of Exile”

New Article: Sara K. Rankin, The Influence of Exile, 76 Md. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2016).  Abstract below:

Belonging is a fundamental human need. But human instincts are Janus-faced: equally strong is the drive to exclude. This exclusive impulse, which this Article calls “the influence of exile,” reaches beyond interpersonal dynamics when empowered groups use laws and policies to restrict marginalized groups’ access to public space. Jim Crow, Anti-Okie, and Sundown Town laws are among many notorious examples. But the influence of exile perseveres today: it has found a new incarnation in the stigmatization and spatial regulation of visible poverty, as laws that criminalize and eject visibly poor people from public space proliferate across the nation. These laws reify popular attitudes toward visible poverty, harming not only the visibly poor, but also society as a whole. This Article seeks to expose and explain how the influence of exile operates; in doing so, it argues against the use of the criminal justice system as a response to visible poverty. In its place, the Article argues for more effective and efficient responses that take as their starting point an individual right to exist in public space, which for many visibly poor people is tantamount to a right to exist at all.

Editor’s Note: I just finished reading this article and it is interesting not only for its text, but for the rich sources collected in the footnotes that give examples of demonizing and blaming the visible poor. Congrats Sara!

New Book Chapter: “Personal Responsibility for Systemic Inequality”

New Book Chapter: Martha T. McCluskey, Personal Responsibility for Systemic Inequality, in RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON POLITICAL ECONOMY AND THE LAW, Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell, eds., pp. 227-45 (Edward Elgar 2015).  Abstract below:

Equality has faded as a guiding ideal for legal theory and policy. An updated message of personal responsibility has helped rationalize economic policies fostering increased inequality and insecurity. In this revised message, economic “losers” should take personal responsibility not only for the harmful effects of their individual economic decisions, but also for the harmful effects of systemic failures beyond their individual control or action. In response to the 2008 financial crisis, this re-tooled message of personal responsibility promoted mass austerity in place of targeted financial industry culpability and penalty. By presenting unequal economic loss as the inevitable result of generally beneficial systems, this flawed logic concludes that the most legitimate response to systemic failure is unequal personal sacrifice, not political mobilization in support of stronger protection from unequal risk and plunder.

This chapter explores how this message weakened the majority report of Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, despite its voluminous evidence of institutional problems. Further, it shows how this message inverts legal responsibility for devastating corporate wrongdoing, so that sacrifice by innocent victims appears to be more productive and proper than fair and meaningful law enforcement. Finally, I analyze how this troubling message is implicitly advanced in the seemingly progressive intellectual defense of equality by legal scholar Daniel Markovits. Markovits challenges the traditional personal responsibility argument that unequal poverty and insecurity stem from bad individual choices. Yet because he assumes that this inequality generally comes from benign institutions limited by natural scarcity, his reasoning nonetheless tends to suggest that responsible policy requires accepting substantial individual sacrifice by those who lose out. To instead revive the ideal of equality, we must go further to challenge the assumption that political economic structures and institutions regularly producing unequal and severe economic harm deserve submission rather than reform.

Conservative News Article On Rural Poverty: “The White Ghetto”

Conservative Coverage of Rural Poverty: Kevin D. Williamson, “The White Ghetto,” The National Review, Jan. 9, 2014.

NOTE: for reasons that will be clear if you read this, I hesitated to post this article.  But I do think it could be good material for a classroom discussion and manages to be interesting at times and regardless of your political leanings also  offensive at other times.

Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants | The Miami Herald

Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants | The Miami Herald.

Roundtable: “Re-evaluating the “Culture of Poverty””

Here: Re-evaluating the “Culture of Poverty” » The Society Pages [featuring Mark Gold, Kaaryn Gustafson, and Mario Luis Small].

Report: “A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits”

Report: Marc Mauer & Virginia McCalmont, A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the  Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits (Sentencing Project, Revised version 2014).

Ford Destroys Cadillac’s Rich Guy Ad – Business Insider

Ford Destroys Cadillac’s Rich Guy Ad – Business Insider.

[Both the Cadillac ad and this Ford ad could be good in the classroom as a way to talk about U.S. belief systems regarding the poor and work.]

GREAT N.Y. Times Series: “Invisible Child”

I have been resisting posting this for a while because I wanted to finish reading it, and with 5 long articles, it is a long series.  But it is worth reading!  I plan on using it in my housing law class and suggesting it in my poverty law class.

Andrea Elliot, Invisible Child, New York Times, Dec. 2013,

(As an aside, Bloomburg’s response is here.)

News Article: “On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps”

News Article: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps, New York Times, Sept. 4, 2013.  

New Article: “Drug Testing Welfare Recipients as a Constitutional Condition”

New Article: Ilan Wurman, Note, Drug Testing Welfare Recipients as a Constitutional Condition, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 1153 (2013).  Abstract below:

This Note challenges the prior and current scholarship on suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients, and the Supreme Court’s special needs doctrine more broadly, by applying the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions to the cases. It contends that the Fourth Amendment’s special needs doctrine is insufficient, because conditioning welfare benefits on drug testing may fail the special needs test but still be a constitutional condition. This Note argues that, where the unconstitutional conditions doctrine could otherwise apply, the doctrine is in fact necessary to apply; that doing so resolves certain contradictions and fictions that currently exist in the Fourth Amendment doctrine, while better explaining some of the Fourth Amendment cases; and that conditioning welfare on drug testing is more likely to be constitutional under the unconstitutional conditions doctrine than under the current Fourth Amendment approach, which would instead stop the inquiry with the special needs doctrine.