Category Archives: Family

New Book: “The Poverty of Privacy Rights”

KBNew Book: Khiara M. Bridges, The Poverty of Privacy Rights (Stanford Univ. Press, 2017). Overview below:

The Poverty of Privacy Rights makes a simple, controversial argument: Poor mothers in America have been deprived of the right to privacy.

The U.S. Constitution is supposed to bestow rights equally. Yet the poor are subject to invasions of privacy that can be perceived as gross demonstrations of governmental power without limits. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutionality of privacy invasions on the poor, and legal scholars typically understand marginalized populations to have “weak versions” of the privacy rights everyone else enjoys. Khiara M. Bridges investigates poor mothers’ experiences with the state—both when they receive public assistance and when they do not. Presenting a holistic view of just how the state intervenes in all facets of poor mothers’ privacy, Bridges shows how the Constitution has not been interpreted to bestow these women with family, informational, and reproductive privacy rights. Bridges seeks to turn popular thinking on its head: Poor mothers’ lack of privacy is not a function of their reliance on government assistance—rather it is a function of their not bearing any privacy rights in the first place. Until we disrupt the cultural narratives that equate poverty with immorality, poor mothers will continue to be denied this right.

The introduction is also available on SSRN here.

News Article: “Wealthy Women Can Afford to Reject Marriage, but Poor Women Can’t”

News Article: Emma Green, “Wealthy Women Can Afford to Reject Marriage, but Poor Women Can’t“, The Atlantic, Jan. 15, 2016.

News Article: “Trauma and the Welfare State: A Genealogy of Prostitution Courts in New York City”

New Article: Amy J. Cohen, Trauma and the Welfare State: A Genealogy of Prostitution Courts in New York City, 95 Tex. L. Rev. 915 (2017).

News Article: ” The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today”

News Article: Joshua Holland, “The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today“, The Nation, August 8, 2016.

Article: Spaces for Sharing: Micro Units Amid the Shift from Ownership to Access

Article: John Infranca, Spaces for Sharing: Micro Units Amid the Shift from Ownership to Access, 43 Fordham Urb. L.J. (forthcoming).

This article, written for the Fordham Urban Law Journal’s symposium entitled Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy, explores the interaction between the sharing or peer-to-peer economy and new forms of housing, particularly micro-units. Certain components of the sharing economy, such as car sharing and co-working, rely on sufficient demand, typically produced by residents within close proximity to an asset-hub. Trade in the idle capacity of privately-owned goods frequently depends upon potential users sufficiently nearby to render sharing convenient. Land use regulations that permit development of micro-units may increase density to levels that better support a sharing economy infrastructure. The sharing economy is also frequently invoked to explain consumer demand for such units – as potential residents choose to forego space and rely on shared resources. Developers have sought to make micro-units more attractive to potential residents by providing access, sometimes on-site, to car and bicycle sharing. Such resources also may ease worries of neighbors concerned about increased density and some local governments have begun to consider the provision of sharing economy infrastructure in the land use approval process. In addition, certain new forms of residential development more expressly incorporate a culture of sharing and at times explicitly identify as a component of the sharing economy.

This article sketches out some of the theoretical and practical implications of the relationship between micro-units and housing more generally and the sharing economy. Even as many micro-unit residents embrace the sharing economy to complement their small living spaces, these units provide residents with an alternative to perhaps the simplest form of contemporary property sharing – living with roommates. They represent a turn away from certain informal sharing of property (kitchen items and food, living room furniture, music and book collections) towards more formal sharing through the peer-to-peer economy. The new exchanges of personal property facilitated by the sharing economy thereby simultaneously enable the increased privatization of an individual’s residence.

As the sharing economy reshapes cities it is also changing the types of housing demanded by urban residents. This article suggests that as cities revise existing regulations to respond to both the growing demand for micro-units and the expanding role of the sharing economy in urban areas, they should more carefully consider the potential synergies between these phenomena.

Article: Bail Nullification

Article: Jocelyn Simonson, Bail Nullification, 115 Mich. L. Rev. 585 (2017).

This Article explores the possibility of community nullification beyond the jury by analyzing the growing and unstudied phenomenon of community bail funds, which post bail for strangers based on broader beliefs regarding the overuse of pretrial detention. When a community bail fund posts bail, it can serve the function of nullifying a judge’s determination that a certain amount of the defendant’s personal or family money was necessary to ensure public safety and prevent flight. This growing practice—what this Article calls “bail nullification”—is powerful because it exposes publicly what many within the system already know to be true: that although bail is ostensibly a regulatory pretrial procedure, for indigent defendants it often serves the function that a real trial might, producing guilty pleas and longer sentences when an individual cannot afford to pay their bail. By examining the ways in which community bail funds serve the functions that a nullifying jury might—allowing popular participation in an individual case to facilitate larger resistance to the policies and practices of state actors—this Article argues that community bail funds have the potential to change how local criminal justice systems operate on the ground, shifting and shaping political and constitutional understandings of the institution of money bail. Community bail funds give a voice to populations who rarely have a say in how criminal justice is administered, especially poor people of color. And the study of bail funds helps point toward other ways in which bottom-up public participation can help create a criminal justice system that is truly responsive to the communities that it is ultimately supposed to serve.

Article: Countering Neoliberalism and Aligning Solidarities: Rethinking Domestic Violence Advocacy

Article: Deborah M. Weissman, Countering Neoliberalism and Aligning Solidarities: Rethinking Domestic Violence Advocacy, Southwestern University L. Rev. (forthcoming).

This article seeks to situate domestic violence in a larger analytical frame of the political economic, to extend institutional responsibility for violence beyond the criminal justice system, and to form common bonds with other social justice initiatives. It argues that improved remedies for domestic violence victims lie within the reform of the political economy. It examines the efficacy of integrating anti-domestic violence initiatives into realms of work and labor and issues pertaining to the financialization of everyday life, as a way to engage larger questions bearing on economic justice and structural social change. The relationship between domestic violence and political economy is under-theorized and constrained by prevailing neoliberal paradigms. Moreover, deepening wealth inequality in capitalist societies has produced new forms of suffering within families, which underscores the need for diverse constituencies to act in concert and in common political cause. Shifting domestic violence strategies so that they operate within the frame of the political economy may generate greater opportunities for coalition building for and with domestic violence advocates.

The relevance of economic security has loomed large in domestic violence advocacy, to be sure. It has been properly identified as a critical factor that determines whether a victim can escape domestic violence. However, advocacy in this area has been often circumscribed by a narrow focus on individual circumstances, reliance on a residualist welfare state that perceives dependency on public assistance as moral deficiency. Too often economic justice initiatives designed to mitigate domestic violence have been fitted neatly within neoliberal economics that fail to provide meaningful social change. These responses have failed to challenge such policies while discounting the full impact of the neoliberal model on one’s ability to escape domestic violence.

This article relies on the scholarship that considers the impact of neoliberalism on law and social justice claims to provide a contextual examination of the ways in which the constraints of neoliberalism hinder efforts to address laws gender-based violence. It describes and then critiques current economic-related strategies offered by the state and the market designed to improve outcomes for victims of domestic violence and questions the “sources of submission” by domestic violence advocates to a neoliberal pragmatic. It offers proposals to advance economic security in ways that join domestic violence advocacy with other forms of socio-economic advocacy that provide additional progressive promise, but does so cautiously as “[n]eoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely invisible.” It suggests that transforming the ways in which attention is paid to economic concerns provides a complementary if not alternative way of understanding and addressing the phenomenon of domestic violence through the broad perspective of socio-economic justice.

News Article: Trump wants to cut off poor people’s legal lifeline

News Article: Bryce Covert, Trump wants to cut off poor people’s legal lifeline, Think Progress (Apr. 6, 2017).

News Article: Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won’t deport them

News Article: Caitlin Dewey, Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won’t deport them, Washington Post (Mar. 16, 2017).

News Article: If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

News Article: Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you, Washington Post (Mar. 16, 2017).