cover image Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation

Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation

Robert L. Tsai. Norton, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-65202-4

Tsai (America’s Forgotten Constitutions), a law professor at American University, presents an unusually practical guide for advocates pursuing legal challenges to systemic inequalities in American society. Tsai argues that, while it would be gratifying to have courts apply 14th Amendment equal protection jurisprudence to eliminate all inequalities affecting minorities, women, and citizens and noncitizens alike in every case, courts are reluctant to make such sweeping rulings for a host of reasons—for example, fear of risking cultural disruption or popular blowback that might erode the courts’ authority. In the face of such reluctance, Tsai proposes that challenges based on more limited and focused legal theories have a greater likelihood of success. He demonstrates how traditional legal concepts such as due process and First Amendment rights have underpinned successful challenges. He illustrates his points with examples that touch on many current high-profile controversies, including racial profiling, the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the current administration’s attempts to implement a ban on immigration from Muslim countries. Although his tactical suggestions are pragmatic, Tsai writes with passion about the moral necessity of eliminating the damage inequality does. This framework will resonate with readers interested in equality and advocacy. (Feb.)