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Civil Rights in American Law, History, and Politics

by Austin Sarat

Civil Rights in American Law, History, and Politics charts the ambiguous and contested meanings of civil rights in law and culture and confronts important questions about race in contemporary America. How important is civil rights in America's story of possibility and change? How has it transformed the very meaning of citizenship and identity in American culture? Why does the subject of race continue to haunt the American imagination and play such a large role in political and legal debates? Do affirmative action and multiculturalism promise a way out of racial polarization, or do they sharpen and deepen it? Are there new and better ways to frame our commitment to equal justice? This book brings together the work of five distinguished scholars to critically assess the place of civil rights in the American story. It offers different ways of talking about civil rights and frames through which we can address issues of civil rights in the future.

Civility, Legality, and Justice in America

by Austin Sarat

Throughout American history, the discourse of civility has proven quite resilient, and concern for a perceived lack of civility has ebbed and flowed in recognizable patterns. Today we are in another era in which political leaders and commentators bemoan a crisis of incivility and warn of civility's demise. Civility, Legality, and the Limits of Justice charts the uses of civility in American legal and political discourse. How important is civility as a legal and political virtue? How does it fare when it is juxtaposed with the claim that it masks injustice? Who advocates civility and to what effect? How are battles over civility played out in legal and political arenas? This book brings the work of several distinguished scholars together to critically assess the relative claims of civility and justice and the way law weighs those virtues.

Dissent in Dangerous Times

by Austin Sarat

While dissent has played a central role in our national history and in the American cultural imagination, it is usually dangerous to those who practice it, and always unpalatable to its targets. War does not encourage the tolerance of opposition at home any more than it does on the front: if the War on Terror is to be a permanent war, then the consequences for American political freedoms cannot be overestimated.

Dissenting Voices in American Society: The Role of Judges, Lawyers, and Citizens

by Austin Sarat

Dissenting Voices in American Society: The Role of Judges, Lawyers, and Citizens explores the status of dissent in the work and lives of judges, lawyers, and citizens, and in our institutions and culture. It brings together under the lens of critical examination dissenting voices that are usually treated separately: the protester, the academic critic, the intellectual, and the dissenting judge. It examines the forms of dissent that institutions make possible and those that are discouraged or domesticated. This book also describes the kinds of stories that dissenting voices try to tell and the narrative tropes on which those stories depend. In what voices and tones do dissenting voices speak? What worlds does dissent try to imagine and what in the end is the value of dissent? Where does dissent speak without actually speaking? Where do dissenting voices most often go unheard or unrecognized? Do we find dissent wherever we find discontent? Wherever we find expression? This book is the product of an integrated series of symposia at the University of Alabama School of Law. These symposia bring leading scholars into colloquy with faculty at the law school on subjects at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary inquiry in law.

The Fate of Law

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

Midst the rising clamor of voices declaring that the law is dead in the US, five original essays discuss the law's problems and prospects in the context of feminism, postmodernism, and other current movements and theories.

Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty

by Austin Sarat

"How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection," wrote Justice Scalia, in a concurring opinion that denied review of a Texas death penalty case. But is it quiet? Renewed and vigorous debate over the death penalty has erupted as DNA testing has proven that many on death row are in fact innocent. In this debate, however, the guilty have been forgotten. In his new book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty, renowned legal scholar Austin Sarat describes just how unquiet death by execution can be. If we assume a death row prisoner is guilty, how can we be sure that we are fulfilling the Supreme Court's mandate to ensure that his execution is "the mere extinguishment of life" and not a cruel and unusual punishment? Gruesome Spectacles is a history of botched, mismanaged, and painful executions in the U. S. from 1890#150;2010. Using new research, Sarat traces the evolution of methods of execution that were employed during this time, and were meant to improve on the methods that went before, from hanging or firing squad to electrocution to gas and lethal injection. Even though each of these technologies was developed to "perfect" state killing by decreasing the chance of a cruel death, an estimated three percent of all American executions went awry in one way or another. Sarat recounts the gripping and truly gruesome stories of some of these deaths#151;stories obscured by history and to some extent, the popular press.

Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty

by Austin Sarat

"How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection," wrote Justice Scalia, in a concurring opinion that denied review of a Texas death penalty case. But is it quiet? Renewed and vigorous debate over the death penalty has erupted as DNA testing has proven that many on death row are in fact innocent. In this debate, however, the guilty have been forgotten. In his new book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty, renowned legal scholar Austin Sarat describes just how unquiet death by execution can be. If we assume a death row prisoner is guilty, how can we be sure that we are fulfilling the Supreme Court's mandate to ensure that his execution is "the mere extinguishment of life" and not a cruel and unusual punishment? Gruesome Spectacles is a history of botched, mismanaged, and painful executions in the U. S. from 1890#150;2010. Using new research, Sarat traces the evolution of methods of execution that were employed during this time, and were meant to improve on the methods that went before, from hanging or firing squad to electrocution to gas and lethal injection. Even though each of these technologies was developed to "perfect" state killing by decreasing the chance of a cruel death, an estimated three percent of all American executions went awry in one way or another. Sarat recounts the gripping and truly gruesome stories of some of these deaths#151;stories obscured by history and to some extent, the popular press.

Human Rights: Concepts, Contests, Contingencies

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

Today the language of human rights, if not human rights themselves, is nearly universal. Human Rights brings together essays that attend to both the allure and criticism of human rights. They examine contestation and contingency in today's human rights politics and help us rethink some of the basic concepts of human rights. Questions addressed in Human Rights include: Can national self-determination be reconciled with human rights? Can human rights be advanced without thwarting efforts to develop indigenous legal traditions? How are the forces of modernization associated with globalization transforming our understanding of human dignity and personal autonomy? What does it mean to talk about culture and cultural choice? Is the protection of culture and cultural choice an important value in human rights discourse? How do human rights figure in local political contests and how are those contests, in turn, shaped by the spread of capitalism and market values? What contingencies shape the implementation of human rights in societies without a strong tradition of adherence to the rule of law? What are the conditions under which human rights claims are advanced and under which nations respond to their appeal?

Identities, Politics, and Rights

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Keams

The subject of rights occupies a central place in liberal political thought. This tradition posits that rights are entitlements of individuals by virtue of their personhood and that rights stand apart from politics, that rights in fact hold at bay intrusions of state policy. The essays in Identities, Politics, and Rights question these assumptions and examine how rights constitute us as subjects and are, at the same time, implicated in political struggles. In contrast to the liberal notion of rights' universality, these essays emphasize the context-specific nature of rights as well as their constitutive effects. Recognizing that political disputes throughout the world have increasingly been cast as arguments about rights, the essays in this volume examine the varied roles that rights play in political movements and contests. They argue that rights talk is used by many different groups primarily because of its fluidity. Certainly rights can empower individuals and protect them from their societies, but they also constrain them in other areas. Frequently, empowerment for one group means disabling rights for another group. Moreover, focusing on rights can both liberate and limit the imagination of the possible. By alerting us to this paradox of rights--empowerment and limitation--Identities, Politics, and Rights illuminates ongoing challenges to rights and reminds us that rights can both energize political engagement and provide a resource for defenders of the status quo.

Is the Death Penalty Dying?

by Austin Sarat Jürgen Martschukat

This volume of "Studies in Law, Politics, and Society" presents a unique special issue "Is the Death Penalty Dying'. " Drawing together an array of distinguished scholars from political science, criminology, sociology, and law, this volume provides a compr

Justice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theory

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

Running through the history of jurisprudence and legal theory is a recurring concern about the connections between law and justice and about the ways law is implicated in injustice. In earlier times law and justice were viewed as virtually synonymous. Experience, however, has taught us that, in fact, injustice may be supported by law. Nonetheless, the belief remains that justice is the special concern of law. Commentators from Plato to Derrida have called law to account in the name of justice, asked that law provide a language of justice, and demanded that it promote the attainment of justice. The justice that is usually spoken about in these commentaries is elusive, if not illusory, and disconnected from the embodied practice of law. Furthermore, the very meaning of justice, especially as it relates to law, is in dispute. Justice may refer to distributional issues or it may involve primarily procedural questions, impartiality in judgment or punishment and recompense. The essays collected inJustice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theoryseek to remedy this uncertainty about the meaning of justice and its disembodied quality, by embedding inquiry about justice in an examination of law's daily practices, its institutional arrangements, and its engagement with particular issues at particular moments in time. The essays examine the relationship between law and justice and injustice in specific issues and practices and, in doing so, make the question of justice come alive as a concrete political question. They draw on the disciplines of history, law, anthropology, and political science. Contributors to this volume include Nancy Coot, Joshua Coven, Robert Gorton, Frank Michelin, and Michael Tossing. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College.

Law and the Humanities

by Austin Sarat Matthew Anderson Cathrine O. Frank

Law and the Humanities: An Introduction brings together a distinguished group of scholars from law schools and an array of the disciplines in the humanities. Contributors come from the United States and abroad in recognition of the global reach of this field. This book is, at one and the same time, a stock taking both of different national traditions and of the various modes and subjects of law and humanities scholarship. It is also an effort to chart future directions for the field. By reviewing and analyzing existing scholarship and providing thematic content and distinctive arguments, it offers to its readers both a resource and a provocation. Thus, Law and the Humanities marks the maturation of this "law and" enterprise and will spur its further development.

Law and the Stranger

by Austin Sarat Lawrence Douglas Martha Merrill Umphrey

The six papers presented in this collection "explore the ways in which law, particularly liberal legal regimes, identifies and responds to strangers within and across their borders, both historically and in the present day," to quote the editors (all of Amherst College). Specifically, the papers explore and critique Immanuel Kant's ideas on neighborliness and hospitality in relation to contemporary transnational migration; the ways that the historic relative legal equality of citizens and aliens in the United States has been undermined in recent years by "war on terror" policies and curtailments of public assistance to immigrants; jurisdictional boundary-drawing in the Israeli trials of Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and Knesset member, and Marwan Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Parliament, both tried for allegedly inciting terrorism and both rejecting the jurisdiction of the Israeli criminal courts over their cases; conflict of laws and the possibility of crafting hybrid rules that blend laws across normative boundaries; George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda and the definition of rights and privileges of Jews, women, and illegitimate children in English law; and illiberalism and antilegalism in utopian literature. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Law and the Utopian Imagination

by Austin Sarat Lawrence Douglas Martha Merrill Umphrey

Law and the Utopian Imagination seeks to explore and resuscitate the notion of utopianism within current legal discourse. The idea of utopia has fascinated the imaginations of important thinkers for ages. And yet#151;who writes seriously on the idea of utopia today? The mid-century critique appears to have carried the day, and a belief in the very possibility of utopian achievements appears to have flagged in the face of a world marked by political instability, social upheaval, and dreary market realities. Instead of mapping out the contours of a familiar terrain, this book seeks to explore the possibilities of a productive engagement between the utopian and the legal imagination. The book asks: is it possible to re-imagine or revitalize the concept of utopia such that it can survive the terms of the mid-century liberal critique? Alternatively, is it possible to re-imagine the concept of utopia and the theory of liberal legality so as to dissolve the apparent antagonism between the two? In charting possible answers to these questions, the present volume hopes to revive interest in a vital topic of inquiry too long neglected by both social thinkers and legal scholars.

Law and War

by Austin Sarat Lawrence Douglas Martha Merrill Umphrey

Law and War explores the cultural, historical, spatial, and theoretical dimensions of the relationship between law and war#151;a connection that has long vexed the jurisprudential imagination. Historically the term "war crime" struck some as redundant and others as oxymoronic: redundant because war itself is criminal; oxymoronic because war submits to no law. More recently, the remarkable trend toward the juridification of warfare has emerged, as law has sought to stretch its dominion over every aspect of the waging of armed struggle. No longer simply a tool for judging battlefield conduct, law now seeks to subdue warfare and to enlist it into the service of legal goals. Law has emerged as a force that stands over and above war, endowed with the power to authorize and restrain, to declare and limit, to justify and condemn. In examining this fraught, contested, and evolving relationship, Law and War investigates such questions as: What can efforts to subsume war under the logic of law teach us about the aspirations and limits of law? How have paradigms of law and war changed as a result of the contact with new forms of struggle? How has globalization and continuing practices of occupation reframed the relationship between law and war?

Law as Punishment / Law as Regulation

by Austin Sarat Lawrence Douglas Martha Merrill Umphrey

Law depends on various modes of classification. How an act or a person is classified may be crucial in determining the rights obtained, the procedures employed, and what understandings get attached to the act or person. Critiques of law often reveal how arbitrary its classificatory acts are, but no one doubts their power and consequence. This crucial new book considers the problem of law's physical control of persons and the ways in which this control illuminates competing visions of the law: as both a tool of regulation and an instrument of coercion or punishment. It examines various instances of punishment and regulation to illustrate points of overlap and difference between them, and captures the lived experience of the state's enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules. Ultimately, the essays call into question the adequacy of a view of punishment and/or regulation that neglects the perspectives of those who are at the receiving end of these exercises of state power.

Law in Everyday Life

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

The subject of law in everyday life is timely in theory and in practice. The essays collected here are stimulating for the very different ways in which they reconfigure the meanings of 'the law' as cultural practice, and 'the everyday' as a cultural domain in which the state expresses a range of interests and engagements. Readers looking for an introduction to this topic will come away from the book with a clear sense of the varied voices and modes of inquiry now involved in sociolegal studies, and what distinguishes them. More experienced readers will appreciate the book's meticulous reconsideration of the instrumentalities, agencies, and constructedness of law.

Law in the Domains of Culture

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

The concept of culture is troublingly vague and, at the same time, hotly contested, and law's relations to culture are as complex, varied and disputed as the concept of culture itself. The concept of the traditional, unified, reified, civilizing idea of culture has come under attack. The growth of cultural studies has played an important role in redefining culture by including popular culture and questions of social stratification, power and social conflict. Law and legal studies are relative latecomers to cultural studies. As scholars have come to see law as not something apart from culture and society, they have begun to explore the connections between law and culture. Focusing on the production, interpretation, consumption and circulation of legal meaning, these scholars suggest that law is inseparable from the interests, goals and understandings that deeply shape or compromise social life. Against this background, Law in the Domains of Culture brings the insights and approaches of cultural studies to law and tries to secure for law a place in cultural analysis. This book provides a sampling of significant theoretical issues in the cultural analysis of law and illustrates some of those issues in provocative examples of the genre. Law in the Domains of Culture is designed to encourage the still tentative efforts to forge a new interdisciplinary synthesis, cultural studies of law.

Law without Nations

by Austin Sarat Lawrence Douglas Martha Umphrey

As the editors (all of Amherst College) explain in their introduction, how one conceptualizes the idea of "law without nations" depends very much on how one theorizes "the nation." A Hobbesian view of the nation as the state suggests that there can be no such thing as "law without nations." The development of doctrines of international crimes such as genocide suggests that law can exist above and beyond the nation, however defined. Understanding "the nation" either in the sense of the German concept of "das Volk" or as an expression of social solidarity (without, necessarily, the exclusivist connotations of "das Volk") can lead to an understanding of the law as embodying and expressing "matters of tradition, affect, belief, and ultimate values," and thus "law without nations" suggests either an impossibility or the imposition of artificial legality from the outside. Finally, in liberal legality, which sees law as the creator of social solidarity and the vehicle for promoting social justice, "law without nations" can be understood as the culmination of the liberal ideal. It is the tensions between these different ways of understanding "law without nations" that animate the six essays presented here, which explore such specific topics as the legal relationship between the nation-state and a globalized world as pertaining to the punishment of crime and the waging of war; issues of comparative constitutionalism (the US Supreme Court citing decisions of foreign domestic national courts, for instance); the conceptual development of Jewish law in the absence of a state for the nation; the recent development of Islamic Sharia Law as a form of supranational legality arising out of the void of failing states; international law as a facilitator of ethnic displacement and exclusion; and law within a liberal multinational empire. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Legal Responses to Religious Practices in the United States

by Austin Sarat

There is an enormous scholarly literature on law's treatment of religion. Most scholars now recognize that although the U.S. Supreme Court has not offered a consistent interpretation of what 'non-establishment' or religious freedom means, as a general matter it can be said that the First Amendment requires that government not give preference to one religion over another or, although this is more controversial, to religion over non-belief. But these rules raise questions that will be addressed in Legal Responses to Religious Practices in the United States: namely, what practices constitute a 'religious activity' such that it cannot be supported or funded by government? And what is a religion, anyway? How should law understand matters of faith and accommodate religious practices?

Legal Rights: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

by Austin Sarat Thomas R. Kearns

The idea of legal rights today enjoys virtually universal appeal, yet all too often the meaning and significance of rights are poorly understood. The purpose of this volume is to clarify the subject of legal rights by drawing on both historical and philosophical legal scholarship to bridge the gap between these two genres--a gap that has divorced abstract and normative treatments of rights from an understanding of their particular social and cultural contexts. Legal Rights: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives shows that the meaning and extent of rights has been dramatically expanded in this century, though along with the widespread and flourishing popularity of rights, voices of criticism have increasingly been raised. The authors take up the question of the foundation of rights and explore the postmodern challenges to efforts to ground rights outside of history and language. Drawing rich historical analysis and careful philosophical inquiry into productive dialogue, this book explores the many facets of rights at the end of the twentieth century. In these essays, potentially abstract debates come alive as they are related to the struggles of real people attempting to cope with, and improve, their living conditions. The significance of legal rights is measured not just in terms of philosophical categories or as a collection of histories, but as they are experienced in the lives of men and women seeking to come to terms with rights in contemporary life.

Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society

by Austin Sarat

Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society: Legal Problems, Legal Possibilities explores the tension between law's need for and dependence on merciful judgments and suspicions that regularly accompany them. Rather than focusing primarily on definitional questions or the longstanding debate about the moral worth and importance of mercy, this book focuses on mercy as a part of, and problem for, law. This book is a product of the University of Alabama School of Law symposia series on 'Law, Knowledge and Imagination'. It explores the ways law is known and imagined in a diverse array of disciplines, including political science, history, cultural studies, philosophy and science. In addition, books produced through the Alabama symposia explore various conjunctions of law, knowledge and imagination as they play out in debates about theory and policy and speak to venerable questions as well as contemporary issues.

Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society: Legal Problems, Legal Possibilities

by Austin Sarat

Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society: Legal Problems, Legal Possibilities explores the tension between law's need for and dependence on merciful judgments and suspicions that regularly accompany them. Rather than focusing primarily on definitional questions or the longstanding debate about the moral worth and importance of mercy, this book focuses on mercy as a part of, and problem for, law. This book is a product of the University of Alabama School of Law symposia series on 'Law, Knowledge and Imagination'. It explores the ways law is known and imagined in a diverse array of disciplines, including political science, history, cultural studies, philosophy and science. In addition, books produced through the Alabama symposia explore various conjunctions of law, knowledge and imagination as they play out in debates about theory and policy and speak to venerable questions as well as contemporary issues.

Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution

by Austin Sarat

On January 11, 2003, Illinois Governor George Ryan--a Republican on record as saying that "some crimes are so horrendous ... that society has a right to demand the ultimate penalty" --commuted the capital sentences of all 167 prisoners on his state's death row. Critics demonized Ryan. For opponents of capital punishment, however, Ryan became an instant hero whose decision was seen as a signal moment in the "new abolitionist" politics to end killing by the state. In this compelling and timely work, Austin Sarat provides the first book-length work on executive clemency. He turns our focus from questions of guilt and innocence to the very meaning of mercy. Starting from Ryan's controversial decision, Mercy on Trial uses the lens of executive clemency in capital cases to discuss the fraught condition of mercy in American political life. Most pointedly, Sarat argues that mercy itself is on trial. Although it has always had a problematic position as a form of "lawful lawlessness," it has come under much more intense popular pressure and criticism in recent decades. This has yielded a radical decline in the use of the power of chief executives to stop executions. From the history of capital clemency in the twentieth century to surrounding legal controversies and philosophical debates about when (if ever) mercy should be extended, Sarat examines the issue comprehensively. In the end, he acknowledges the risks associated with mercy--but, he argues, those risks are worth taking.

Pain, Death, and the Law

by Austin Sarat

This collection of essays examines the relationship between pain, death, and the law and addresses the question of how the law constructs pain and death as jurisprudential facts. The empirical focus of these essays enables the reader to delve into both the history and the theoretical complexities of the pain-death-law relationship. The combination of the theoretical and the empirical broadens the contribution this volume will undoubtedly make to debates in which the right to live or die is the core issue at hand.

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