Category Archives: deserving/undeserving

New Article: A Theory of Poverty: Legal Immobility

New article: Sarah Sternberg Greene, A Theory of Poverty: Legal Immobility, Washington University Law Review, Forthcoming, Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2018-25. Abstract below:

The puzzle of why the cycle of poverty persists and upward class mobility is so difficult for the poor has long captivated scholars and the public alike. Yet with all of the attention that has been paid to poverty, the crucial role of the law, particularly state and local law, in perpetuating poverty is largely ignored. This Article offers a new theory of poverty, one that introduces the concept of legal immobility. Legal immobility considers the cumulative effects of state and local laws as a mechanism through which poverty is perpetuated and upward mobility is stunted. The Article provides an initial description and normative account of this under-theorized aspect of our laws, and argues that in order to fully understand poverty, a more complete understanding of the relationship between law and poverty is needed. After discussing several examples of laws that can contribute to legal immobility (everything from state and local tax laws to occupational licensing laws), the Article offers a three-prong theory to help understand the distinct pathways through which individual laws that contribute to legal immobility function: 1. duplicitous exploitation; 2. gratuitous management; and 3. perfunctory neglect. This framework provides a guide for future work to build on legal immobility theory. The goal is that by bringing to light the role of local and state laws in perpetuating poverty, legal immobility theory will ultimately help lawmakers solve the problem of persistent poverty. The concept of legal immobility provides a way of understanding persistent poverty through the lens of the law and points toward new structural approaches to tackling poverty.


New Op-Ed: How Scapegoating Immigrants Hurts All Workers

New Op-Ed: George Goehl, How Scapegoating Immigrants Hurts All Workers, The Nation, June 19, 2018.

“When people are so dehumanized that forcing kids to sleep in kennels becomes acceptable, the value of life for everyone goes down.”

News Coverage: New York City Guarantees a Lawyer to Every Resident Facing Eviction

News Coverage: Kriston Capps, New York City Guarantees a Lawyer to Every Resident Facing Eviction, CityLab, August 14, 2017.

New Article: Now is the Time: Class-Based Affirmative Action in the 21st Century

New article: Evan F. Jaffe, Now is the Time: Class-Based Affirmative Action in the 21st CenturyJournal of Civil Rights and Economic Development: Vol. 30: Issue 2 , Article 5. Abstract unavailable. See link for PDF download.



New Op-Ed: States across the nation are criminalizing poverty

New Op-Ed: Editorial Board, States across the nation are criminalizing poverty, Wash. Post, May 27, 2018.

New Article: Too High a Price 2: Move on to Where?

New Article: Nantiya Ruan, Elie Zwiebel, Michael Bishop, Bridget DuPey, Nicole Jones, Ashley Kline, Joshua Mitson, and Darren O’Connor, Too High a Price 2: Move on to Where? U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 18-14, May 7, 2018.


New Op-Ed: The Not-So-Subtle Racism of Trump Era ‘Welfare Reform’

New Op-Ed: Bryce Covert, The Not-So-Subtle Racism of Trump Era ‘Welfare Reform,’ N.Y. Times, May 23, 2018.

New Article: Reginald Heber Smith and Justice and the Poor in the 21st Century


New Article: John M. A. DiPippa, Reginald Heber Smith and Justice and the Poor in the 21st Century, Campbell Law Review, 40 Campbell L. Rev. 73 (2018). Abstract below:

Reginald Heber Smith’s 1919 book, Justice and the Poor, is one of the most important books about the legal profession in history. It found that people without money were denied access to the courts. Smith argued that this failure to provide equal justice undermined the social fabric of the nation. Accordingly, he urged a number of actions, including simplifying court procedures, creating small claims courts, and providing the poor with access to lawyers. These lawyers would deliver a full range of legal services to their clients, including seeking reform of the substantive laws that burdened the poor. Smith’s book shamed the elite bar into action and led to the creation of the modern legal aid movement. As we come upon the 100th anniversary of its publication, Justice and the Poor reminds us that we are not much closer to Smith’s vision of equal justice than we were in 1919.

New Op-Ed: G.O.P. Insists Making Poor People Work Lifts Them Up. Where’s the Proof?

New Op-Ed: Eduardo Porter, G.O.P. Insists Making Poor People Work Lifts Them Up. Where’s the Proof? N.Y. Times, May 18, 2018.

[Important] News Coverage: Which Poor People Shouldn’t Have to Work for Aid?

[Important] News Coverage: Emily Badger & Margot Sanger-Katz, Which Poor People Shouldn’t Have to Work for Aid?, N.Y. Times, May 15, 2018. [Covering the racism of Michigan’s work requirements and rural exemptions.]