Wednesday, October 19, 2011

OWS & the Constitution

Frank Pasquale

A quick note on Jack Balkin's post "Occupy the Constitution:" I agree that problems caused by political and economic inequality have now reached constitutional dimensions. I point to some directions for action in my review of Balkin's latest book, "Material Foundations of Constitutional Redemption."

To make the issue a bit more concrete, consider this recent story on Alabama's immigration law, and concurrent efforts to increase prison labor:

First, the state passes a harsh immigration law. Then, it detains large numbers of immigrants. Third, private prisons (LCS, CCA, GEO) receive fresh inmates. And finally, the artificially created labor shortage is supplied by the new inmates. Does this sound like modern-day slavery to anyone?

Like Plyler v. Doe, OWS's declaration directly addresses a politico-economic system that can render the undocumented immigrant (and indeed, almost anyone who makes a few too many mistakes in life) a pariah.