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.”
Go beyond the episode:
- Robert L. Tsai’s Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation
- Read his essay on how another approach would be not only to broaden the variety of arguments, but also to expand the venues for those arguments.
- For a steamier episode on the law, check out our interview with Geoffrey R. Stone in the episode “Out of the Closet and Into the Courts”
- Listen to the More Perfect episode “The Imperfect Plaintiffs” about how certain cases—like Plessy v. Ferguson—were manufactured by individuals to challenge existing law
- For another spin on how public action influences the courts, check out this interview with lawyer Darryl Li about the mass protests of the Muslim travel ban, as well as Barry Friedman’s The Will of the People
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.
Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)
Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.