New Article: Alice Giannini, An Intersectional Approach to Homelessness: Discrimination and Criminalization, 19 Marq. Ben. & Soc. Welfare L. Rev, 1 (2018). Abstract below:
The purpose of this essay is to address discrimination against homeless people. First of all, the theory of intersectionality will be explained and then applied as a method of analysis. The complexity of defining homelessness will be tackled, focusing on the difficulties encountered when approaching this concept. Notions such as protected ground and immutability of personal characteristics will be discussed. Then, an intersectional approach to homelessness will be outlined. Different cases settled by the Supreme Court of Canada will be used to support this approach. Intersectional discrimination is a rather new theory which has not yet been applied by many courts and tribunals but Canada has proven to be a vanguard in this area. For this reason, Canadian case law has been chosen as the main example in this research. Phenomena of stereotyping, prejudices and social profiling connected to homelessness will be described. In addition, an inquiry on homelessness cannot be conducted without looking at the representation different minority groups within the homeless population and therefore this aspect will be shortly dealt with. To continue with, different laws and other legal sources concerned with criminalizing specific conducts against public order will be analyzed applying the outlined intersectional method. In specific, this work will concentrate on quality of life regulations and anti-homeless regulations. What the author will argue is that, once it is established that homelessness is a ground worthy of protection, this kind of legislation results in direct and indirect discrimination. In conclusion, the arguments in favor of including homelessness or social condition as a ground of discrimination will be laid out, with reference to Canadian, European and international law sources. Due to the broadness of the topic, this essay does not aim at being a comprehensive study but rather at trying to answer these questions: how can we consider homelessness as a ground of discrimination? What are the most common ways in which this distinctive kind of discrimination is perpetuated?
New Op-Ed: Editorial Board, States across the nation are criminalizing poverty, Wash. Post, May 27, 2018.
[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.]
New Book: Scott W. Allard, Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty (2017). Overview below:
Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.
Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.
To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.
Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies.
New Book: Robert Wuthnow, The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America (2018). Overview below:
How a fraying social fabric is fueling the outrage of rural Americans
What is fueling rural America’s outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America’s small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order–the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities—underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans’ anger, their culture must be explored more fully.
We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities’ needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America’s fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington’s seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.
Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America’s heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation’s political future.
For those interested in JD Vance’s book or in reactions to the book, Lisa Pruitt’s blog post about the reactions can be found here.
Article: Steven L. Nelson, Racial Subjugation by Another Name? Using the Links in the School-to-Prison Pipeline to Reassess State Takeover District Performance, 9 Geo. J. L. & Mod. Crit. Race Persp. (2017).
The state takeover of locally governed schools in predominately black communities has not disrupted the racial subjugation of black people in the United States. Using proportional analyses and the cities of Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans as sites, the researcher finds that state takeover districts have not consistently disrupted the school-to-prison pipeline for black students in urban settings. Furthermore, the researcher found little evidence that would support broader and more intentional efforts to combat the over disciplining of black students in the United States Department of Education’s proposed rules for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In fact, the legislation perpetuates strategies that have aided the creation of the school-to-prison pipeline and supplies only strong recommendations to replace strategies that have compounded the harm of the school-to-prison pipeline. This finding is important in the context of education reform, particularly as researchers begin to question the motives and results of contemporary education reform. Moreover, this work is important to the current scholarly discussions that consider the many civil rights that black communities are required to exchange for the prospect of better schools.
Article: Justin Hansford, Demosprudence on Trial: Ethics for Movement Lawyers, in Ferguson and Beyond, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 101 (2017).
A complex, dynamic, and creative tension endures between law and social movements. Not only can law affect and even help from social movements, but social movements can affect and even help form law. Just as jurisprudence is the study of how judges make law, demosprudence is the study and practice of how social movements can also affect change through the law.
This Article explores how movement lawyers can use demosprudence to promote social change outside of the courtroom. It uses the civil rights movement and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson as examples. By applying this framework to the movement lawyering context, movement lawyers can adapt to the void in voice created by the vanishing trial in civil litigation and still help the movement.