LARB’s Best: Law

The law is the frontline in our ongoing battle to “create a more perfect union.”

The law is the frontline in our ongoing battle to “create a more perfect union.” The decisions of our courts, and the laws enacted by our legislatures, reflect both our best aspirations and our worst misdeeds. In the years I have had the privilege to edit the Law section of LARB, I have endeavored to present reviews, essays, and interviews reflecting our struggle to find truth and do justice, where we have failed, where we have succeeded, and how we might do better. The role law has played in shaping the Black experience in in the United States is reflected in Anne Richardson’s review of the Color of Law and in Paul Finkelman’s essay on the pro-slavery motivations behind the Electoral College. Democracy — and how our American republic may fall short of its ideals — is the subject of Roslyn Fuller’s review of Paul Cartledge’s recent book on the history of democracy. The emergence of the surveillance state is the theme of Stephen Rohde’s meditation on Orwell’s 1984. I review several books on the passage of, and legal challenges to, California’s gay marriage ban, and the triumph — at least for now — of a constitutional right to inter-sex marriage. The cruelty of Trump’s immigration policy is brought into sharp focus by Sara Campos’s review of The End of Asylum. High level constitutional issues are explored by Laurie Levenson in her review of Erwin Chemerinsky’s We the People and by Joel Seligman in his review of Akhil Amar’s The Words That Made Us. The wanton violence perpetrated by the US Middle East policy is illustrated in words and photographs in Elle Kurancid’s heartbreaking account of the war in Yemen. Brachah Goykadosh writes movingly of the personal significance of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to her as a young woman lawyer. And, lest we lose our sense of outrage, I include an extra piece by Marc Cooper, who writes with pointed wit “in praise of incivility in the Era of Trump.”

— Don Franzen

This digest is part of our year-round celebration of our 10th anniversary. To celebrate with us, please visit our anniversary page!