Smarty Pants Podcast

The Backdoor to Equality

Alternative arguments for fair treatment

By Stephanie Bastek | March 8, 2019
Lorie Shaull/Flickr

The concept of equality has been with us since the founding of the United States, and it’s been revised and fought over and debated for about as long, from the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment to the culture wars and the legalization of same-sex marriage. But not every argument for equality that is brought up in a court of law goes well. In fact, equality arguments often backfire, ending up affirming inequality: Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu v. United States … or just last year, Trump v. Hawaii. Losing the battle in court for an abstract concept like equality has tangible consequences for people on the ground, from trans soldiers to Iranian kids seeking lifesaving medical treatment. But what if there’s a way to fight for equal treatment without sending current laws backsliding? American University law professor Robert Tsai joins us on the podcast to argue for what he calls “practical equality.”

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Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

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