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Interviews with Scholars of the Law about their New Books
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Interviews with Scholars of the Law about their New Books
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    David R. Boyd, "The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World" (ECW Press, 2017)

    David R. Boyd, "The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World" (ECW Press, 2017)

    Palila v Hawaii. New Zealand’s Te Urewera Act. Sierra Club v Disney. These legal phrases hardly sound like the makings of a revolution, but beyond the headlines portending environmental catastrophes, a movement of immense import has been building ― in courtrooms, legislatures, and communities across the globe. Cultures and laws are transforming to provide a powerful new approach to protecting the planet and the species with whom we share it.
    Lawyers from California to New York are fighting to gain legal rights for chimpanzees and killer whales, and lawmakers are ending the era of keeping these intelligent animals in captivity. In Hawaii and India, judges have recognized that endangered species ― from birds to lions ― have the legal right to exist. Around the world, more and more laws are being passed recognizing that ecosystems ― rivers, forests, mountains, and more ― have legally enforceable rights. And if nature has rights, then humans have responsibilities.
    In The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World (ECW Press, 2017), noted environmental lawyer David Boyd tells this remarkable story, which is, at its heart, one of humans as a species finally growing up. Read this book and your world view will be altered forever.
    David R. Boyd is an environmental lawyer, professor, and advocate for recognition of the right to live in a healthy environment. Boyd is the award-winning author of eight books, including The Optimistic Environmentalist, and co-chaired Vancouver’s Greenest City initiative with Mayor Gregor Robertson. He lives on Pender Island, B.C. For more information, visit DavidRichardBoyd.com.
    Mark Molloy is the reviews editor at MAKE: A Literary Magazine.
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    Matthew Clair, "Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Matthew Clair, "Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton UP, 2020) by Matthew Clair is a powerful ethnographic study of the experiences and perspectives of criminal defendants. While many studies have demonstrated the existence of race and class disparities in the criminal justice system, Clair conducted a rare and compelling study that puts heart and emotion into these disparities. As he argues and shows, not only should we care about quantitative inequalities in criminal justice, but "[w]e should [also] be concerned about differences in the quality of the court experience" for so many defendants.
    Clair did extensive interviews with and observed criminal defendants, defense lawyers, judges, police officers, and others interact with each other in the Boston court system. What he shows is a system that operates differently for people of privilege compared to people without. While many criminal defendants face struggles of alienation from societal structures, the underprivileged often resort to crime out of necessity, whereas privileged defendants were more likely to enter the system because of pleasure-seeking or to avoid pain. 
    Once in courtrooms, underprivileged defendants, especially racial minorities, develop profound mistrust of their court-appointed attorneys. These defendants face, and have often repeatedly been represented by overworked lawyers who often refuse to listen or to develop relationships of trust with their clients, which led many of these defendants to "withdraw," as Clair coins it, from the attorney-client relationship. Some resisted the lawyer or the court: complaining openly about the lack of diligence, asking the court to appoint new counsel, or taking it upon themselves (often with group support) to learn the law and make the arguments their lawyers refused to make. Others developed what Clair calls an attitude of resignation, recognizing the futility of their situation, and essentially giving up the fight. 
    The experience is fundamentally different for privileged defendants. These defendants often have broad social circles that include the police or lawyers. Because of those connections, they are able to obtain counsel of their choice. The payment of fees engenders trust in the relationship. These defendants defer to their lawyers, trust their judgment, and feel genuinely satisfied with the representation.
    Clair argues that courts punish those defendants who withdraw from their lawyers and reward those who defer to them. He calls on lawyers to develop more trusting relationships with their clients and to work toward a more holistic style of defense that considers more than just the legal issues in the case. He encourages courts to allow defendants to choose their court-appointed attorney and to encourage a more participatory legal system in which defendants are not punished for expressing dissatisfaction with their lawyer. 
    Clair's study is replete with compelling and personal examples. The narrative is what makes this study especially moving. Clair gives voice to those who repeatedly tried, but failed to get their lawyers and courts to listen. Because of Clair's work, we can now hear them.
    Samuel P. Newton is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Idaho.
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    A. Dirk Moses, "The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    A. Dirk Moses, "The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Genocide is not only a problem of mass death, but also of how, as a relatively new idea and law, it organizes and distorts thinking about civilian destruction. Taking the normative perspective of civilian immunity from military attack, A. Dirk Moses argues that the implicit hierarchy of international criminal law, atop which sits genocide as the 'crime of crimes', blinds us to other types of humanly caused civilian death, like bombing cities, and the 'collateral damage' of missile and drone strikes. Talk of genocide, then, can function ideologically to detract from systematic violence against civilians perpetrated by governments of all types. The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression (Cambridge UP, 2021) contends that this violence is the consequence of 'permanent security' imperatives: the striving of states, and armed groups seeking to found states, to make themselves invulnerable to threats.
    Jeff Bachman is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC.
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    Andrew T. Walker, "Liberty for All: Defending Everyone's Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age" (Brazos Press, 2021)

    Andrew T. Walker, "Liberty for All: Defending Everyone's Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age" (Brazos Press, 2021)

    Christians are often thought of as defending only their own religious interests in the public square. They are viewed as worrying exclusively about the erosion of their freedom to assemble and to follow their convictions, while not seeming as concerned about publicly defending the rights of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and atheists to do the same. 
    In Liberty for All: Defending Everyone's Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age (Brazos Press, 2021), Andrew T. Walker, an emerging Southern Baptist public theologian, argues for a robust Christian ethic of religious liberty that helps the church defend religious freedom for everyone in a pluralistic society. Whether explicitly religious or not, says Walker, every person is striving to make sense of his or her life. The Christian foundations of religious freedom provide a framework for how Christians can navigate deep religious difference in a secular age. As we practice religious liberty for our neighbors, we can find civility and commonality amid disagreement, further the church's engagement in the public square, and become the strongest defenders of religious liberty for all. Foreword by noted Princeton scholar Robert P. George.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in history at Queen's University Belfast.
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    Cristina Beltrán, "Cruelty As Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Cristina Beltrán, "Cruelty As Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Cristina Beltrán has written a thoughtful and interrogating analysis of the concept of citizenship, particularly in the United States, and how the history of the United States as a country has shaped an understanding of who gets to be “belong” as a member of this society. The book, Cruelty as Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy is part of the Forerunners book series published by the University of Minnesota Press—this series, as we discuss in our conversation, publishes shorter works that dig into ideas across a broad and interdisciplinary spectrum. And this is precisely what Beltrán has done in this book, in terms of engaging historiography, Cultural Studies, LatinX Studies, political theory, American Studies, and other disciplines to aid her unwrapping of our understanding of immigrants and migrants, and why there is an interest in seeing these groups as “others” and, among certain segments of the population, wanting to make sure they suffer in this exclusionary position. Beltrán takes the reader through both imagined and real spaces in terms of the place of the immigrant and the migrant in the United States, weaving the role of the American frontier, the way that settler-colonialism operated inside the U.S., and an understanding of white identity within all of these contexts.
    Cruelty as Citizenship is an accessible exploration of the tensions within the United States that surround our reactions to those coming to this country (forcibly, or by choice) and how racial identity has shaped the varied experiences and responses of those who come to the United States and those who have proceeded them here. As Beltrán noted in our discussion, she had come to this work in an effort to tease out the different political affiliations within the LatinX population in the U.S. What she found was that in order to understand the political responses by LatinX voters, the entire dynamic between different racial groups and the role of racial domination needs to be explored. Thus, Cruelty as Citizenship is the result of digging into the political dynamics within different racial groups in the United States, and getting at the role of white identity, and thus white democracy, within American cultural concepts and expectations of political and state power. Cruelty as Citizenship guides the reader through multiple facets of American history, politics, culture, and ideas about what it is to be American and who has the right to claim this identity as their own.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    Lisa Waddington and Anna Lawson, "The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Practice" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Lisa Waddington and Anna Lawson, "The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Practice" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Practice: A Comparative Analysis of the Role of Courts (Oxford UP, 2018) brings together an extraordinary collection of data and analysis which concerns how domestic courts interpret and apply the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is the first thorough comparative collection of research which brings together the approaches to the interpretation and application of the CRPD in domestic courts across thirteen jurisdictions from around the world. In this groundbreaking book, leading global scholars in disability law, Professor Lisa Waddington and Professor Anna Lawson, give the reader unique insight into the influence that the CRPD is having in domestic courts. The first part of the book provides an extensive comparative analysis of the role of the courts in bringing about compliance with the Convention. The second half of the book brings together these findings, offering understandings into the implications for human rights law and theory, contextualised more broadly in international human rights law. This work will be the basis for extensive research into the uses and application of the CRPD, especially with regards to the function and limits of the role of the courts in disability rights enforcement. 
    The book is be an essential resource for any scholar or student of disability law, international law, and human rights.  
    Lisa Waddington is a Professor, and Endowed Chair of International and European Law in the faculty of law in Maastricht University in the Netherlands. She holds the European Disability Forum Chair in European Disability Law and her principal area of interest lies in European and comparative disability law, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and European and comparative equality law.
    Anna Lawson is a Professor in disability and law at the University of Leeds. She is the Joint Director of the University wide interdisciplinary Centre for Disability Studies and the Co-ordinator of the Disability Law Hub. She holds membership, trustee and advisory positions in a range of local, national and international disabled people’s and human rights organisations and regularly advises policy-makers, governments and intergovernmental organisations. 
    Jane Richards is a doctoral student at the University of Hong Kong. You can find her on twitter where she follows all things related to human rights and Hong Kong politics @JaneRichardsHK
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